Who is better captain S. Ganguly or MS Dhoni?

Well, certainly for the Indian public, this is as hot a debate as 'When will Sachin retire?.' 
Asked many a times, debated over and over yet it remains inconclusive, "Who is the better Indian captain: Dhoni or Ganguly?" Lets see a few parameters which would give a better idea of what we must be comparing, before I get down to my personal verdict. 


He took over as Indian captain, with the team fresh from the match fixing debacle and when, Sachin had stepped down. At that crisis situation, Ganguly took over the captaincy duties for the national side in both forms of the game (T20 wasn't even a thought then). As a captain, Ganguly brought youth into the side, aggression and a vision, which was new to Indian cricket. Players like Yuvraj, Sehwag, Harbhajan made their debut under Ganguly. He channelised their talent for the cause of nation by backing them at tough times. He instilled a confidence in the players that have made these players the best in the world. He took brave decisions like
(i) asking Laxman to bat at no. 3 in Kolkata test(and also a few others depending on the situation); 

(ii) asking Srinath to come out of retirement for the 2003 WC; 

(iii) asking Dravid to keep wickets in One dayers(and Dravid actually handled those duties so well shows how good a team player he was!); 

(iv) getting Sehwag to open in tests. (Sehwag began as a middle order batsman in Tests and eventually went on to become one of the most destructive openers in Test cricket).
and more....

Ganguly gave Indian cricket a respectable face(more than just that) in the cricketing world. India, from being in the bottom half of the rankings, climbed to the No. 2 position(which was dominated by Australia). Indian test team began winning overseas and won handsomely.

He led Indian team to the finals of the 2003 WC quite remarkably, after India were thrashed 2-5 by New Zealand in the ODI series in the run up to the WC. Indian team was the blend of youth and experience and Ganguly led the way himself with three centuries in the tournament, not to forget the immense contribution made by the timeless Sachin.
Under Ganguly, the team won 11 tests out of 28 in away venues and some of those historic wins coming in Australia, England, West Indies and Pakistan. As for the records, Ganguly captained in 49 tests, winning 21 and losing 13. In ODIs, he captained in 146 ODIs and won 76 of them, losing 65. 

Indian team had its moments under Ganguly. A few of them enlisted below: 

1. NatWest Series(No Indian shall forget this one):

2. 2001 India-Australia Test Series at home(the incredible Dravid-Laxman partnership, emergence of Bhajji etc.): 
3. The pics that went viral on the web showing Ganguly as the captain of his 'Lagaan' team in the run up to WC Final 2003:


He took over the captaincy at a time when the Indian test team was in good health but the ODI team had suffered a shock exit from the 2007 WC. Dhoni came to the limelight having impressed everyone with his skills in the inaugural T20 WC 2007 which India won. Dravid's resignation just proved to be a trigger and Dhoni took over.

Dhoni, or call him the Captain cool, has earned himself a name in the captaincy books for being uniquely calm and composed on the field. While Dhoni had a decent team to lead in the tests with the likes of Dravid, Laxman, Tendulkar, Sehwag, Bhajji, Zaheer and the rest who were all very good Test players. But what Dhoni is credited for is his ODI team that he built. Players like Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar etc. became the mainstay of the Indian team(unlike Yusuf who has now been dropped). He is to be credited to work in sync. with a talented coach like Gary Kirsten to carve out the Indian 2011 WC team. 

His are not the masterstroke decisions unlike Ganguly, but his are the tactics on the field that make him stand out. Who would chance with Joginder Sharma in the final over of the match in a WC semi final and final?? Kudos, if they bear results and brave, if they don't. In fact, he has often been termed as bull headed for his out-of-the-blue decision making. 
If India began winning tests abroad under Ganguly, Dhoni changed the way the team performed in finals of tournaments. His is a record way better than Ganguly when it comes to winning in finals. But, he loses to Ganguly in terms of test wins away from home. With only 5 wins to his credit(out of a total of 21 till date), he has something to improve upon significantly. 

His captaincy record in Tests would have been phenomenal as well had it not been for those 0-4 series losses to England and Australia, in their respective home grounds, not to forget the transition that the team is going through with seniors retiring and youngsters trying to make a place for them in the Test side. 

If Ganguly instilled confidence and aggression, Dhoni makes sure the team is now a force to reckon with, be it in the Tests or ODIs or T20s. India managed to reach the summit of both ODI and Test ranking s under his leadership. Who can forger April 2 , 2011 when India lifted the WC once again after a gap of 28 years. Yes, it was sweet indeed. and though Dhoni didn't bat well throughout the tournament, he came good when it mattered the most, scoring that match winning 91* in the finals. 

Yes, in terms of captaincy you can also count on those two IPLs and one CLT20 that his franchisee, Chennai Super Kings, have won under him. Not to forget that CSK have almost always managed a place in the last four, IPL 2012 being the only exception. As for the record, Dhoni has captained in 44 test matches won 21 and lost 13. In ODIs, his is a much better record with 77 wins and 47 losses in 135 matches.

Some high times under Dhoni:

1. The monstrous 112m six when India needed 12 off 4 balls at Adelaide in 2011-12 CB series down under. India won that match.

2. ICC World T20.
3. Enough said.
Ganguly taught us how to be fearless.
Dhoni taught us how to be feared.

Ganguly made the Indian team aggressive, while at the same time Dhoni showed that being calm is equally important. 

Ganguly was born to lead
Dhoni was born to win.

Some might say that Ganguly could only make India the second best team in the world. To that I would say that being second best is a step towards being the best. 

Others might argue that Dhoni rides on his luck. For them I would like to quote what MS told his team after India posted a small target in the first innings of the Champions Trophy final'13 - 

We are the number one team in the world, lets play like one.

This shows the confidence Dhoni instills in his players which makes India win and not Dhoni's super luck.

As mentioned above, the contributions of both the captains are equally important. So one cannot be better than the other. Yes, statistically MS has more trophies but Ganguly was part of an era that changed the face of Indian cricket. It was under Ganguly's guidance that players like Yuvi n Bhajji realized their potential. They were then further motivated under Dhoni to use their potential to win India the world cups. 

Choosing a winner between them would be an insult to them and the Indian team. Both of them are winners in their own sense.


It is always going to be difficult to choose one among them, for they have offered so much to Indian cricket. But, if I were to choose, I would go with Saurav Ganguly. This is so, because he gave a face to Indian Cricket and built a team that he had envisioned.  Taking nothing away from Dhoni, he has a repute for himself and considered by many as the better captain than Ganguly. In fact, Ganguly himself said in an interview to a news channel that 'Dhoni is the all time greatest captain of India and he has a great record to support this credential'. But, as a fan and cricket passionate, you have your own choices. You are free to make yours...