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British volte-face on Indian captain

London: The cricketer who was being derided as “Lord Snooty” in England not so long ago is now being hailed in the same country as the Captain of the World Cup.

With India doing superbly, the British media on Sunday lavished praise on the Indian side and its skipper Sourav Ganguly who, the Sunday Observer said, was probably the finest leader in the tournament.

“For weeks the pundits have praised Ricky Ponting’s growing maturity, Stephen Fleming’s ingenuity.

“But Ganguly can lay claim to being the Captain of the Tournament,” the paper said.

“India’s captain is not liked but he is just the man for the job,” it said and commended Sourav for sacrificing his role as opener for the team’s sake.

“Ganguly has also been prepared to sacrifice his own role in the side — rather more readily than, say Nasser Hussain, England captain. “Instead of sending angry hand signals to the Press Box — a la Hussain — he has surreptitiously yielded so that India can open with Sachin Te ndulkar and Virender Sehwag.”

The paper said Sourav was “one of the few international captains who really believes that he can beat them”.

“If Ganguly lifts the trophy, even Steve Waugh might be impressed,” it said.

The Independent was full of praise for the three-pronged Indian pace attack saying it was mainly responsible, apart from Tendulkar, for India’s fine run in the tournament.

“For a country that has produced very few high-quality fast bowlers — only Kapil Dev, with 434 Test wickets stands out — Srinath and the two left-arm quicks, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra, are providing India with the best pace attack in their history,” wrote Angus Fraser.

“It is not just the aggression and pace with which they bowl that gives their captain so many options and their opponents so much trouble, but the ability to deploy two left- armers who can swing the ball back into a right-handed batsmen at pace.

“There are not many bowlers of this type, but when they come along they cause batsmen endless problems. It is amazing what a slight change of angle can do to minds and technique.”

Fraser said after India’s league match against England, some English batsmen said, “The Indian bowlers hit the bat harder than Pakistan’s pacer Shoaib Akhtar had a few days earlier when he became the first man officially to break the 100mph barrier.”

A near-imminent India-Australia final also interested the British media.

“Australia against India — it is the final that this accident-prone tournament desperately craves,” said the Sunday Observer.

“Australia remain the team to beat, but India are recognised as the only side who can do it.”

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