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Sourav Ganguly: The southpaw who delivered 'Knockout' blows at big stages to opposition

New Delhi: Sourav Ganguly, one of India and world cricket's greatest entertainers and a bold captain under whose leadership Men in Blue instilled in themselves a never-seen-before winning mentality, turned 51 on Saturday.

While Ganguly has scored 18,575 runs across 424 international cricket matches, including over 7,000 runs in Tests, his stronger format was ODIs. He represented India in 311 ODIs, scoring 11,363 runs at an average of 41.02. He has scored 22 centuries and 72 half-centuries in 300 innings with the best score of 183. He is the ninth-highest run-scorer in ODI cricket and the third-highest run-scorer for India in ODIs. Ganguly is the fourth-fastest to 7,000 (174 innings), 8,000 (200 innings) and 9,000 ODI runs (228 innings) and third-fastest to 10,000 ODI runs (263 innings). While Ganguly has played numerous match-winning knocks in various bilateral series, Ganguly was India's ultimate clutch player in ICC tournaments.

He has played 21 Cricket World Cup matches, in which he has scored 1,006 runs at an average of 55.88. He has four centuries and three half-centuries, with the best score of 183. Ganguly has also played 13 matches for India in the Champions Trophy, scoring 665 runs at an average of 73.88, with three tons and three fifties in 11 innings and best score of 141*.

In all, he has played 34 ICC tournament matches for India, scoring 1,671 runs at an average of 61.88 across 32 innings. He has scored seven centuries and six half-centuries at ICC tournaments, with a best score of 183.

Beneath all these statistics, an underrated aspect of Ganguly's game is his brilliant record in knockout stage matches at ICC events. Here is a look at how he has fared in the ICC tournaments and its knockout matches.
-1998 ICC Knockout

India managed a semifinal position in this knockout event. In the third QF against Australia, he could score just one run. He had a better outing against West Indies in semifinals, scoring a commendable 83, though in a losing effort. So in two matches, he scored 84 runs at an average of 47.00, with one fifty.
-1999 Cricket World Cup

This WC marked Ganguly's debut at the biggest stage of them all. The 'Prince of Kolkata' emerged as the third-highest run-scorer for India in the tournament, scoring 379 runs in seven innings at an average of 54.14, with one century and one fifty. His best score was 183. India failed to qualify for knockout stages of the tournament.
-2000 ICC Knockout

Ganguly was the top-run scorer in this tournament. He scored 348 runs in four matches at an average of 116.00, with two centuries and a fifty. Ganguly started off with a fluent 66 in pre-quarters against Kenya, but could score only 24 against Australia in QFs. Then he managed 141 against South Africa in the semis and 117 against New Zealand in final, in a losing effort.
-2002 ICC Champions Trophy

ICC Knockout underwent a change in format and name in 2002. Ganguly scored 143 in three innings in five matches at an average of 71.50, with one century. In the semifinal against South Africa, he scored 13 and in the final against Sri Lanka, he did not bat as rain washed out the game and both teams shared trophies.
-2003 Cricket World Cup

This World Cup was Ganguly's peak as a batter and he took India to the finals of the tournament, where they lost to Australia. But Ganguly emerged as the second-highest scorer in the tournament, scoring 465 runs in 11 matches at an average of 58.12, with three centuries.
In the semifinal against Kenya, Ganguly struck a match-winning 111*. In the final, he scored just 24 runs.
-2004 ICC Champions Trophy

In the 2004 Champions Trophy, India did not make it to the semifinals. He scored 90 runs in two innings at an average of 45.00, with best score of 90.
-2007 ICC Cricket World Cup

This tournament marked Ganguly's final WC appearance and India failed to give one of its best servants the farewell he deserved. India was out in round one itself and Ganguly scored 162 runs in three matches at an average of 54.00, with two fifties and the best score of 89. Now, talking about the knockout stage matches, Ganguly played in nine innings, scoring 580 runs which came at an average of 82.85, with three centuries and two fifties and a best score of 141*.

This average is way higher than other future Indian stars who would perform well in knockout matches, like Gautam Gambhir (273 runs in five matches at an average of 54.60), Sachin Tendulkar (682 runs in 15 matches at an average of 48.71), Virat Kohli (683 runs in 18 matches at an average of 48.78), Rohit Sharma (620 runs in 17 matches at an average of 44.28) and Shikhar Dhawan (241 runs in six matches at an average of 40.16). 

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