Sachin Tendulkar (left) and Sourav Ganguly
Sourav Ganguly (right) and Sachin Tendulkar during one of their numerous ODI opening partnerships. Image Credit: PTI files

Dubai: Former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly, who was often subjected to hushed criticism of being suspect against fast bowling during his playing days, found a backer from unexpected quarters in Shoaib Akhtar.

The ‘Rawalpindi Express,’ who has been creating a stir time and again with his provocative comments in his own Yotuble channel, said about Ganguly: “People used to say that he was scared to face fast bowling, he was afraid to face me. I think all of that was rubbish. Sourav Ganguly was the bravest batsman I ever bowled to, the only opener who could face me with the new ball,”

In an interview to Helo app, Akhtar said that despite having limited strokes whenever the ball was aimed at his body, the left-handed batsman never backed away.

“He knew he didn’t have the shots, I also targeted him by bowling at his chest but he never backed away, and still scored runs. That is what I call bravery.”

The former Pakistan speedster also labelled Ganguly as the best Indian captain he had played against.

“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.

Ganguly, now the president of Indian cricket board and counted as one of India’s most successful captains, played 113 Tests and 311 ODIs in which he scored 7,212 and 11,363 runs, respectively. ‘Dada,’ as Ganguly is famous as the Indian cricketing fraternity, and Sachin Tendulkar formed the most successful opening pair in the history of ODIs, where they plundered 6609 runs at an outstanding average of 49.32 from 136 occasions.

Their best stand of 258 runs against Kenya is also the highest by any Indian opening pair, and the duo has shared 21 century-plus stands and 23 fifty-plus stands in ODIs.