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In the Hot Seat

The current controversy surrounding Sourav Ganguly is anything but a novelty. In fact, the 'hot seat' of Indian captaincy has always been the focus of intense debates and heated discussions.

Reproduced below are some of the acrimonious incidents involving Ganguly's predecessors:

Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid


* The Maharajkumar of Vizianagaram: A mediocre cricketer, he led India on the tour of England in 1936. On several occasions on the tour, senior players suggested to him that he step down and hand over charge to C.K. Nayudu, India's first Test captain and the premier player in the side. 'Vizzy' refused.

* Vijay Hazare: In his first Test as captain, against England at Delhi in 1951-52, he teamed up with opener and long-time batting rival Vijay Merchant in a partnership of 211. It was obvious during the stand that they were playing against each other more than the English bowlers. Merchant got out at 154, which was at that stage the highest individual score by an Indian in Test cricket. Hazare carried on until he surpassed the score, and then promptly declared. Merchant's pride was hurt and he did not play a Test again. The match ended in a dull draw.

* Four leaders in the same series: The five - Test home series versus the West Indies in 1958-58 witnessed as many as four Indian captains in Polly Umrigar, Ghulam Ahmed (two Tests), Vinoo Mankad and Hemu Adhikari. India lost the series 0-3.

* Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi: The Nawab of Pataudi (Junior) was vice-captain of the team that toured the West Indies in 1961-62. He took over the captaincy on the tour at the age of 21 years 77 days when Nari Contractor, the skipper, suffered a near-fatal skull injury at the hands of Windies paceman Charlie Griffith. Pataudi was at that point the youngest-ever Test captain. Contractor underwent an emergency brain operation and played no further Test cricket. Pataudi went on lead India in forty Tests.

* Ajit Wadekar : Vijay Merchant, the Chairman of the national selection committee, exercised his prerogative of the casting vote in favour of Wadekar for India's tour of the West Indies in 1970-71. Wadekar went on to register a hattrick of series victories, the first two of them overseas, but was unceremoniously sacked after India's 0-3 whitewash in England in 1974.

* S. Venkatatraghavan: He led India in the first two World Cups and the tour of England that followed the 1979 edition. He and his teammates were embarrassed when the captain of the plane carrying them back to India after the England tour announced the news that the captaincy had been handed back to Sunil Gavaskar.

* Three skippers sacked after tours of Pakistan: As many as three Indian captains lost their job after a tour of Pakistan; Bishan Singh Bedi in 1978-79 ( lost series 0-2), Sunil Gavaskar in 1982-83 ( lost 0-3) and Krishnamachari Srikkanth in 1989-90 (drawn 0-0 ) .

* Mohammad Azharuddin: Poor form and allegations of match-fixing resulted in his final ouster from the captaincy after the 1999 World Cup.

* Sachin Tendulkar: He had two separate tenures as captain; from 1996-97 to 1997-98, and then for most of the 1999-00 season. He decided to relinquish the mantle of captaincy after the disastrous tour of Australia in 1999-00.

* Rahul Dravid: He has had several stints as stand-in captain in place of the injured or suspended Sourav Ganguly. He has led India in five Tests in three different series and in 17 ODIs in seven separate rubbers!


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