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Celebrating Sourav

If Indian cricket, in 2007, had a storyline, it has to be 'Rise of the Phoenix'. The year clearly belonged to Sourav Ganguly, the one-time inspirational captain whose problems with then coach Greg Chappell and subsequent ouster from the team formed a sorry undercurrent to much of 2006. The year just ending saw him come back with the biggest of bangs, in both forms of the game. And fittingly, 2007 will end on a high for the southpaw who, on December 26 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, will take the park for his 100th Test. Rediff commemorates the occasion.
  '100 Tests is very special'
His mates swear by him, his opponents swear at him; ever since he made his debut in 1996 with a fairytale century at Lord's, he has held a cricket-crazy nation in his thrall. In the midst of an improbable comeback, on the cusp of a career milestone, Sourav Ganguly ruminates on hopes and dreams; on ambitions and checks; on wishes and fulfillment -- and on what the future holds for him.
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      Sachin on Sourav's 100
    Sachin Tendulkar was a veteran when Sourav Ganguly made his debut, against England, in 1996. Since then, their fortunes have been closely intertwined; Sachin and Sourav have over the years shared the most productive partnership in one-day cricket history. On the occasion of Ganguly's 100th Test, Sachin speaks of how significant the moment is, and of his long-time partner's contribution to Indian cricket.

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      Steve Waugh praises Ganguly
    Australia may have warned India of a hostile series Down Under but former Australian captain Steve Waugh is full of praises for Sourav Ganguly. To much surprise Waugh a long time adversary of Ganguly has turned full circle and admitted that he has great respect for the former India captain.

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      Dravid on Sourav's 100
    They made their debuts together, on June 20, 1996. It would have been neat to have played their 100th Test together, but injury and the vagaries of form and selection dictated that Rahul Dravid got there ahead of his fellow debutant. As Ganguly readies to join the 100-Club, Dravid reminisces -- on that first match, the first century, and what Ganguly was like as a captain.

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      VVS Laxman on Sourav's 100
    If VVS Laxman's batting rocked the Aussies during the famous Final Frontier tour, it was Sourav Ganguly's take-no-prisoners captaincy that set the aggressive tone for the series and made a landmark win possible. The master batsman salutes an exemplary leader.

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      Dhoni on Sourav's 100
    Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who made his debut under Sourav Ganguly, speaks of the "fearless" leader he has known. Touring Australia is never easy; playing your 100th Test at the MCG is going to be tough - but, says Dhoni, Ganguly will likely welcome the challenge, and look to round off the occasion with a century.

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      Pathan on Sourav's 100
    On the morning of December 12, 2003, Sourav Ganguly tapped Irfan Pathan on his shoulder and gave him the news - he would debut, against Australia no less, and would be taking the new ball. On the cusp of another Australia tour where he hopes to cement his own comeback, Pathan speaks of his one-time captain, and the confidence Sourav instilled in him.

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      Harbhajan on Sourav's 100
    The off-spinner was on the verge of extinction, after being dismissed from the National Cricket Academy, when Sourav Ganguly spotted in him the ideal weapon to take on Steve Waugh's rampaging Australians. Harbhajan Singh, on the captain who transformed his career.

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      Father Chandi on Sourav's 100
    In 1996, when Sourav Ganguly was creating electricity on debut at Lord's, there was paradoxically no electricity in the Ganguly home in Behala. Father Chandidas Ganguly speaks of following his son's sensational debut over the phone, and of what it means to have a cricketing superstar as his son.

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      Mother Nirupa on Sourav's 100
    The rest of the country can idolize Sourav Ganguly all it wants to; for mother Nirupa, her second son is still the same simple, unspoilt kid who loves her cooking -- especially the biryanis, dal, and poshto.

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      Wife Dona on Sourav's 100
    Their parents built a wall to keep them apart; Dona and Sourav found vantage points in their respective homes, from where to gaze at each other, to keep love alight. Love conquered; the wall came down; marriage followed. And now Dona Ganguly, who rarely watches her husband bat, is off to Australia. "A 100th Test is once in a lifetime," she says.

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