The “Chandidas” in the name Sourav Chandidas Ganguly means the slave (devotee) of Ma Chandi also known as Ma Kali to her followers.
When Sourav Ganguly was playing a command innings against South Africa on a difficult pitch under choking pressure, laying to bed the demons in his mind and the demons in the dressing room and in the press box, there was a presence on the field—a Godly presence shepherding him through the toughest few hours of his career.
I am talking about the substitute player fielding for the South Africans, on for the injured Dale Steyn.
A man by the name of Makalima.
Yes. You saw that correct.
Ma Kali Ma.
And when Sourav threw back the years, the hurt and the humiliation, hitting an amazing six of Ntini and then in the press conference desisted from gloating, instead choosing to heap praise on those those with whom his relationship can best be described as uneasy, he ended up proving something we all know to be true but sometimes have trouble keeping faith in—-that God helps them who help themselves.
Cause help himself he did. Whether it be rushing to practice within two hours of touching down in South Africa or doing kickboxing and parachute training to sharpen his reflexes, Ganguly showed a desperate hunger to be back inthe team— an inspiring determination which his jaundiced critics interpreted as “his stubborn refusal to let go” and his desire not to lose the commercial advantages of being in the cricket team.
Talking of critics, if there was anything funnier than Sreesanth’s bat-twirling and Shakira-esque butt-shaking it must have been Ravi “the expert” Shastri laying the credit for Sourav’s performance at Greg Chappell’s door who, if we are to believe Shastri’s spin (which is far more exaggerated than anything he bowled), made Sourav and Zaheer take a break and come back stronger. Of course this does not explain Greg Chappell’s accusations about Sourav faking injury, nor his desire to humiliate and break Dada down but who cares? In the larger context of India making history by kicking the butt of the arrogant South Africans on their own tampered pitch, what’s one more idiotic Ravi-Shastrism between friends?
Apart from Sourav’s return what was heart-warming to see was the spectacular comeback for another “Chappell Way” victim Zaheer Khan. While his bowling was incisive and his batting fearless, what impressed me the most was his amazingly sharp display of fielding that accounted for the fast-running De Villers. And no words of praise can be high enough for Sreesanth, a Chappell-Dravid inclusion (just to show that they do get it right too), whose high-energy seam bowling (the delivery to remove Kallis was a gem) and rocket-like verbals must have been a shock for the South Africans used to the apologetic Srinath and the caterpillerian Prasad.
In conclusion, the battle for the series has just begun. The South Africans have paid once for their arrogant complacency, they are unlikely to do so in the future. Sourav has started on the path to reclaiming his glory (a place in the World Cup 2007 being his immediate goal) but the path to his rehabilitation is long and with people waiting for him to stumble, the pressure and weight of expectations can only increase from here on.
And unfortunately there won’t be Ma-Kali-Ma on the field everyday, whispering words of wisdom to her dear devotee.