Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar has played against some of the best captains of world cricket like Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Sourav Ganguly, Graeme Smith, Stephen Fleming, and MS Dhoni to name a few. Naturally, it would have been a herculean task to pick the best among them but for Akhtar, it was one of the simplest of choices. The Rawalpindi Express took the name of former India captain and current BCCI president Sourav Ganguly when he was asked to name the best opposition captain.
Akhtar did not go into comparisons with other great captains of world cricket directly but rated Ganguly as the best Indian captain ever. While maintaining that MS Dhoni was a very good leader, Akhtar said Ganguly had the art of building a team.
“If I talk about India, then it will be Sourav Ganguly. India haven’t produced a better captain than him. Dhoni is very good, he’s a superb captain but when you talk about team building then Ganguly did a great job,” said Akhtar in an interview in Helo app.
Akhtar, who represented Pakistan in 46 Tests, 163 ODIs, and 15 T20Is picking up 178, 247, and 19 wickets respectively, said he never thought India could beat Pakistan in any tournament other than the World Cup.
“I never thought India could beat us outside of a World Cup game. I toured India in 1999, we won in Chennai, we lost in Delhi but we won in Kolkata again, we ODIs, we won in Sharjah,” added Akhtar.
But the former pacer, who was regarded as the fastest bowler of the world during his time, said it all changed when Ganguly took charge as the Indian captain.
“When India came in Pakistan in 2004 under Ganguly’s leadership I got a feeling that this team can beat Pakistan and they did that,” Akhtar added.
India had beaten Pakistan 2-1 in the Tests and 3-2 in the ODIs in 2004.
Heaping praise on Ganguly, under whom Akhtar played his only season of IPL with Kolkata Knight Riders in 2008, the former fast bowler, Ganguly transformed the Indian side.
“The bravery and capability you can understand through this. He brought that transformation into the Indian side. I’m a huge fan of Bengalis, they are, strong, courageous and they are the ones who fight at the forefront,” said Akhtar.
Ganguly, one of India’s most successful captains, hanged his boot in 2008 after playing 113 Tests, 311 ODIs, scoring 7212 and 11363 runs respectively.