One of the most successful Indian cricket team leaders is Sourav Ganguly. In his heyday, left-handed batter Ganguly was a dominant force in international cricket, scoring more than 18,000 runs, including 38 hundred. In his capacity as India’s captain, he inspired a youthful Indian side to become a world-class squad that started winning games away from home routinely, including making it to the 2003 World Cup final. He commanded India in several contests against arch-rivals Pakistan and was renowned for his ferocity and no-nonsense approach.

Speaking of rivalries, the ones between India and Pakistan have always guaranteed pyrotechnics on the cricket field, but they also provide many fascinating insights and anecdotes off the field. A lot is going on behind the scenes that are seldom seen by the public, and the players benefit the most from it. While Indian and Pakistani cricketers have competed to outdo one another in games, most of them maintain friendly relationships off the field.

One of them is former spinner Saqlain Mushtaq, who revealed an intriguing notion he had about Ganguly. Mushtaq said in an interview that at first, he thought the former India captain had a little air about him. But when they spoke over a cup of coffee during India’s 2003–2004 tour to Pakistan, he had a different perspective.

“There are certain folks you don’t feel like mingling or conversing with. When we were playing together, I first felt that way about Sourav Ganguly. He was the captain of India and unquestionably a legend. However, if we did connect, it was always just a simple “hey” and “hello.” He seems to have a pretty high opinion of himself, “He spoke with SportsKeeda.

Saqlain went on to explain how Ganguly’s selfless act after the former spinner’s operation caused him to rethink his perception of the then-India skipper. The memorable 1997 Sahara Cup, the 1999 Test match in Chennai, and the tri-series in Australia in 2000 saw the two square off, but it would take Saqlain a few more years to see Ganguly in a different, more endearing light.