Sourav Ganguly on Tuesday made a surprise announcement of his retirement from Test cricket after the end of four-match series against Australia beginning Thursday, bringing to an end a 16-year career that had of late shown a slump.
"Before I leave, I have to make an announcement. This is going to be my last series. I have decided to quit. These four Tests are going to be my last," said Ganguly, winding up a routine press conference.
The announcement by the most successful cricket captain India ever had only served to confirm speculation that surrounded his selection into the Test team for the first two matches last week on the understanding that he would quit after the series.
"I have spoken to my teammates that these four Tests would be my last matches. Thanks for all the support, hopefully I will go out on a winning note," said the stylish 36-year-old left-hander from Kolkata.
Ganguly, a veteran of 109 Tests, has been in and out of the team after he lost captaincy in 2005 following a spat with the then coach Greg Chappell during tour of Zimbabwe. He had assumed the captaincy in the most difficult time for cricket when Mohammad Azharuddin had to step down on match-fixing charges.
Last year, he was dropped from the one-day team during the England tour and ever since had failed to make a serious comeback.
Ganguly made his debut in international cricket in 1992 by being selected for the one-day team and later entered the Test format in 1996. He has also played 311 ODI matches.
Ganguly has scored 6,888 runs in the Tests, averaging 41.74 and 11,363 runs in ODIs at an average of 41.02.
His highest Test score was 239 and ODIs 183. In the latest shorter version of the game -- Twenty20 -- he scored 726 runs, at an average of 25.92, the highest being 91.
The new Chief Selector K Srikkanth said Ganguly had a chat with him before making the announcement.
"He had a chat with me and a co-selector. He probably feels it's time for him. Every now and then the axe was on him and he said 'Chika' let me play without any pressure on me," Srikkanth said.
"I pray he scores a lot of runs in the series and India wins. A guy like Sourav Ganguly deserves it because he has done a lot for this country," he added.
Former captain Bishan Singh Bedi said it was not a time to feel sad but to celebrate because Ganguly deserves a grand farewell.
"His contribution has been enormous. A great Indian cricketer, a legend has hung up his boots. I hope he has done it on his own terms," Bedi said.
Another former skipper Kapil Dev welcomed Ganguly's decision but felt nobody should put pressure on senior players to quit.
"Nobody talks about retirement of the Board officials but they only put pressure on seniors, who are great players and should leave on their own. Nobody but the players themselves should decide when to go," he said.
Venkatapathy Raju, a former selector who had played with him, said he was not shocked by the decision and felt it was right.
Former chief selector Kiran More, who shared a stormy relationships with Ganguly, said it was a big decision by the left-hander.
"He has done a fantastic job for the country. He probably wanted to go on a high and it was a good opportunity against Australia," More said.
Ganguly, the overall fifth-highest run-getter for India, is only the seven batsmen in the world to cross the 10,000-run mark in one-day internationals.
He led India to 21 wins in 49 matches before he was sacked in 2005.
He, however, was a surprise inclusion for the first two Tests against Australia being ignored for the five-day domestic Irani Cup tie last month, a selection trial for the series.