Calcutta, Nov.16: In Sanjay Bangar, Sourav Ganguly has backed another winner.
While most were convinced Bangar was just suited for Test cricket, the captain took the lead in getting the 30-year-old picked for the on-going ODIs against the West Indies.
At the Gujarat Stadium, last night, Bangar justified Sourav’s faith by scripting an amazing unbeaten 57 (41 balls). Indeed, besides helping India draw level (2-2), the allrounder has now positioned himself as a firm contender for the 2003 World Cup.
Actually, it’s the World Cup-factor which influenced the captain into making a strong pitch for Bangar in the lead-up to the squad’s (first) selection on October 31.
“Bangar can have a role (in the World Cup), could well be pretty useful… He should, therefore, be recalled (for the ODIs),” was Sourav’s own belief, on the eve of the selectors’ meeting, which he shared with The Telegraph.
Today, of course, the captain didn’t claim any credit for himself. Quite like not trying to pocket kudos when the Virender Sehwags and Yuvraj Singhs came good. Even Zaheer Khan and Mohammed Kaif.
Speaking exclusively, from the team hotel in Vadodara, Sourav said: “I backed Bangar because of his ability… It’s nice, yes, that he translated potential into performance. I’m happy.”
He added: “I’m aware people had given him the Test-only label but, really, how can impressions be formed without giving the player enough opportunities' That’s beyond me… Till yesterday, after all, Bangar had just played four matches…”
Incidentally, that Bangar could effortlessly shift gears was evident during his maiden Test hundred (exactly 100 not out in Nagpur, earlier this year, versus Zimbabwe). Only, everybody just preferred to remember his more recent (dour) innings.
Having ended Day-III of that first Test on 22, Bangar tore into Stuart Carlisle’s men to garner as many as 63 in the very first hour on the fourth morning. Consequently, while his first fifty took 118 deliveries, the second came in a mere 37.
Besides the quickfire runs, Bangar eclipsed Sachin Tendulkar, who was the non-striker. Later, interacting with the Media, Bangar talked about the “state of mind” making the biggest difference.
“There’s a difference when you are looking to survive, and when you are aiming to quickly score,” is a point the thoroughly unassuming Bangar made that day.
Last night, that difference — coupled with Rahul Dravid’s cucumber-cool professionalism — was sharp enough to cut the West Indies to pieces.