Monday, February 19, 2007

Saurav Ganguly – The Return of the Prince

Countdown to ICC Cricket World Cup 2007

After the recently concluded Sri Lanka series, there is no doubt as to who the real hero for the Indian cricket team is right now. Having been declared the man of the series for this series Dada must be looking back with quite satisfaction at the dramatic turn of events in the last 4 months or so. Ostracized from the Indian team almost a year back, his exit has been well documented and his return now has been equally glorious.

The prince of Kolkata (a title given to him by Sir Geoffrey Boycott) was unceremoniously dumped out of the team for reasons not entirely cricketing. His form, his supposed immobility in the field, and his overall attitude to the game were all cited as reasons for his exclusion. His public spat with the coach and the subsequent fallout with the powers that be in Indian cricket did not help his cause either.

However the way Dada dealt with this blow is really admirable. He went back to county and domestic cricket to work on each and every single aspect of his game that was subjected to criticism and came back with an answer for each and every one of them.

It was said that he can’t play on fast and bouncy tracks. He answered this with some superlative performances in South Africa, where you can find some of the bounciest tracks in the world. He was among the few batsmen to have come out of that tour with their heads held high. The other aspect of his game subject to much ridicule was his fielding. I can’t remember him dropping any catches after his comeback. As a matter of fact, he pulled off a great catch in the series against Sri Lanka indicating the progress that he has made as a fielder. He may still not be the sharpest of fielders, but he has become a reliable enough one. As for his attitude, anybody who has seen him on and off the field would vouch for his change. His focus is so unwavering; one could almost sense the hunger in his eyes. This was illustrated when he came out to practice on a rain affected day in South Africa when the rest of the team had already left for the hotel. One could almost feel his burning desire to shut the critics up once and for all.

Sourav’s second coming (or third coming rather, if you consider that he was actually selected for the Australian tour of 1992) augurs well for team India when they are on the threshold of embarking on the most important tournament of the year. India needs Ganguly to be at the top of his game if India has to have any chance of winning the world cup. He along with Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid form the holy trinity of Indian cricket. And all three knows that this could very well be their last chance of winning the World Cup.

Sourav has an important role to play in the world cup. Since our fielding is the weakest point we will need our batsmen to make up those runs that our fielders will invariably give away. And Sourav, who is now almost certain to open the batting for India at the World Cup, will be playing a lead role in achieving this. Presently he is slotted at the right position as he has scored a majority of his runs at the top of the order. His record in ODIs is second only to that of Sachin Tendulkar. His greatest value to the team however will be his handling of spinners, as the pitches in the West Indies are almost certain to assist the slower bowlers. There is no better batsman who can handle the spinners as Sourav can. If he can stay in the middle till the 35th over then expect the spinners to be murdered. His medium pace bowling too will come in handy for India at a time when we are struggling to find bowlers to complete their quota of overs.

Ganguly must be savoring the moment right now as he would those sweet Bengali Rôshogollas one gets at his home town. The Bengal Tiger is back with a bang and you can be rest assured that he would be leading the charge for India in the West Indies.

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