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‘We fought well in trying conditions’
- Sourav Ganguly praises youngsters, says Sachin batting at No. 4 good for team

Colombo: The mini World Cup is over and the focus now shifts to the main event in February-March.

Sourav Ganguly has his eyes on South Africa and the next four months will be his chance to sort out the shortcomings. “We need to work on our fast-bowling department. Zaheer (Khan) was exceptional. We were a little unfortunate with Srinath as he had to come all the way and did not have even a day to prepare.

“Zaheer, Harbhajan (Singh) and (Virender) Sehwag have been outstanding. Kumble was at his very best today so there weren’t too many negatives really,” said Sourav.

“We’ve played exceptionally well in this tournament and quite well in the last ten months. Given the amount of cricket we play, it was good to see the fight we showed. The conditions were testing but we all stood up very well.

Incidentally, the BCCI has announced a Rs 1 crore reward for the team’s consistent good performance in the tournament.

He also defended the decision to send Sachin Tendulkar at No. 3 and open the innings with Sehwag and Dinesh Mongia. “Sachin didn’t get runs in two games, that happens with everybody, but then a lot of people put a lot of unnecessary pressure on him. So we thought it would be good for him to go with the ball being hard — that’s what he’s used to. Had he scored a few boundaries early on, the pressure would be off him.

“Another thing is that we know Muralidharan is their key bowler. So some of the younger boys like Yuvraj (Singh), (Mohammed) Kaif and even Mongia might find it a bit difficult against him. If Mongia already had a few runs under his belt when Murali would come on, he would be able to play him better. And I’ve played Murali for about seven years now and know his art a little better than the youngsters.”

A lot has also been made of Sachin saying he would prefer to open. “But he hasn’t expressed his desire to me,” Sourav countered.

“We’re playing really well at the moment. Sachin had a fantastic series batting at No. 4 in England. He’s a quality player and it’s good for the team that he bats at No. 4. The people who put pressure on him should realise that we need to win as a team.”

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