| Sourav Ganguly during a practice session at the Gabba on Wednesday. (Reuters)
Brisbane: Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly, singled out by Shane Warne as having a weakness for short-pitched bowling, says he’s ready to face the “chin music” in Thursday’s opening Test against Australia at the Gabba.
Leg spinner Warne, serving a 12-month drugs ban, has pinpointed Sourav as showing a distaste for short-pitched deliveries and warned him that he will receive a barrage of what he called “chin music” on the green-top Gabba pitch.
But Sourav did not sound perturbed on Wednesday, saying it was what he expected on what will be a hugely-challenging tour. “That’s how they play their cricket, which is good and tough,” Sourav said. “They use their media quite a bit against opposition teams and you’ve just got to forget about it and get on with your game.”
Asked if he expected a working over with the short-pitched ball, 31-year-old Sourav said: “Yes... (Australian captain) Steve Waugh gets it and he’s scored 32 Test hundreds.
“I don’t think about it. Fortunately, the hotel people don’t put a newspaper under my door, so I don’t get to read most of them.
“It’s going to be a challenge, you want to play Test cricket and you don’t get everything pitched up to you. Players who’ve played Test cricket for a long period of time have received a few of those (short balls), so you’re going to get it, that’s what Test cricket is all about and we have to stand up against whichever side we play.”
Sourav’s Test batting average is 41.42, but it dips to 29.47 against Australia in 10 Tests. On his last tour here in 1999-2000 he scored one half-century in six innings. Waugh signalled that India’s batsmen, headed by the great Sachin Tendulkar, will receive short-pitched bowling, but not to excess.
“There’s going to be some short stuff, we’ve got to expect that in Test match cricket as our batsmen expect it from their bowlers, it’s all part of it, (but) I don’t think we’ll be overusing it, you want to make sure that it’s a surprise weapon.”
Sourav looked ahead with optimism. “It’s a big challenge to our ability and we really want to find out how good we are at the end of the series,” Sourav said.
“But then every side is vulnerable. Australia know it is only India who have beaten them in the last six years. They know at the back of their mind we could throw them up a challenge.”
Sourav drew hope from the performance of Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra, his left-arm pace bowlers, on foreign soil and said his side travel far better than a few Indian teams in the past.
“I think it has changed. We like being on tour. We get to do a lot of things we can’t do at home. If you ask a lot of boys, they like touring.
“The difference has been the composition of the side. Now we rely on fast bowlers to take wickets and to be honest, Zaheer and Ashish have bowled well on previous tours and given us confidence. “The key for our bowlers is to hit the length consistently.”
Sourav did not want to get too worked up on the toss at the greentop Gabba wicket and said toss was an over-rated thing in Test cricket.
“It is how you do on five days which matters. In the past Waugh has chosen to field at Gabba. We won the toss at Headingley last year, batted on a damp wicket and won the Test. I don’t think bowling or batting first was a sign of weakness. It’s how good you are which makes the difference,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sourav wants Sachin Tendulkar to practise his leg spin before he can expect to have more Test bowling stints.
“To be honest that’s one area we’re looking to develop,” Sourav said on Wednesday of Tendulkar’s part-time leg spin. “But with Sachin it depends on how he feels. There are days when the ball comes out well from his hand and that’s the day when you make him bowl quite a bit. Sachin can turn the ball.
“He turns it in a big way, but there are days when he bowls a few loose balls and that takes the pressure off the batsmen.
“But leg spin is a difficult art and you have to keep practising, especially the control.
“As a captain I try to tell him he should bowl more leg spin and to practise it in the nets but he also keeps on telling me that he doesn’t want to practise leg spin because he’s a batsman and he’s trying to work hard on his game as a batter.”