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The reality, in India, is that captains get hammered, says Sourav
- 'It's best to treat it like any other Test or ODI... It gets complicated when you think of the pressure...'

Calcutta: Time, pressure... One is at a premium, the other around in plenty. Team India captain Sourav Ganguly, though, managed about 20 minutes to interact with The Telegraph on Friday, not many hours before the Platinum Jubilee Cup face-off with Pakistan.

The following are excerpts

On leading in a one-day game vis-a-vis a Test

Having been captain for almost five years, I've got used to thinking and plotting differently... Experience certainly helps because, obviously, the mind-set is different.

On whether, in a one-dayer, captaincy becomes instinctive

To an extent, yes, as the situation can change with every over... Therefore, anticipation comes in handy... Frankly, be it a Test or an ODI, captaincy isn't easy...

On his thoughts before leading India for the first time (Singapore, September 1999, versus the West Indies), albeit in a stand-in capacity

(Laughs) Oh, that was very long ago... I don't remember.

On his thoughts before captaining India for the first time against Pakistan (Sharjah, March 2000)

Again, I can't recall the planning... Moreover, that Pakistan team was different... What I do remember is that we won by five wickets... Was I more keyed-up' Perhaps, yes.

On leadership

It's about making the right moves, trying to lead from the front and backing the players.

On approaching a Pakistan match

It's best to treat it like any other Test or ODI... It gets complicated when you begin to think of the pressure, of the significance and so on... As I've said in the past, the more free the mind, better the chances of performing well. (After a pause) As it turns out, this team has played Pakistan a number of times this year itself... So, the players are used to handling the pressure.

On what makes the biggest difference in a game versus Pakistan

A cool head... Not getting carried away by the occasion...

On whether it's easy to forget pressure and not get carried away by the emotional fervour

May not be so... Yet, talking generally, players aspiring to be counted among the best should have this ability... That tomorrow's ODI is going to be the ninth this year is something to be welcomed. The more we play, the easier it will be for the players ' of both teams ' to absorb pressure.

On the 'theme' of his message to the players before a Pakistan match

Just think of it as another ODI/Test.

On the psychological factor in Indo-Pak shootouts

I don't think it's such that players get weighed down. They've got to back their ability and instincts.

On whether India's disappointing run this season has dented his own confidence

Look, I accept we haven't played well... Thankfully, we won the last Test (Mumbai)... Every win does send the confidence level soaring and, hopefully, the worst is over. (Again, after a pause) The past few months have seen a low, yes, but we've had many highs in the last couple of years and it's time to draw confidence from the past... It's this very team, after all, which reached the last World Cup final and did so well in Australia and Pakistan... Bottomline is have faith and don't rush to write us off.

On whether we need to learn from the three defeats at the hands of Pakistan this season

We were outplayed in Colombo, while the Amstelveen game was truncated... As for the Champions Trophy match (Birmingham), it was pretty close... We need to bat better... Actually, be it winning or losing, I don't get too influenced by the past.

On a section of the Media doubting his injury in Nagpur

That was shameful... This is my team... I've built it with the support of seniors and the backroom staff... Didn't the scan show something was wrong' Don't people realise it's so tough making a comeback... I mean, I'm returning against an attack with two of the fastest bowlers (Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Sami)... I couldn't play the tri-series final here (versus Australia), a year back, yet got 144 in the Brisbane Test a couple of weeks later... Why didn't somebody question me on my fitness then' I'm convinced that the pitch controversy (in Nagpur) and the doubting of my injury had something to do with non-cricket problems' I've been saddened.

On many loving to hate him despite being India's most successful Test captain

I don't know why... Critics must stick strictly to cricket... If even after being a performer for eight years, some remain unsatisfied, there's nothing I can do... They need to be reminded that not many in India have 33 international hundreds... (Again, after a pause) The reality, in India, is that captains get hammered.

On whether he admires any captain specifically for the way he leads in ODIs

No... Steve Waugh remains my role model ' he was outstanding both in Tests and ODIs...

On whether limited overs' achievements are to be equated with those in Test cricket

Every achievement is, well, an achievement.

Finally, given the dubious history-creating finish to the last Pakistan game at the Eden (February 1999), his message to Calcuttans

I'm sure the fans have learnt and, today, are more responsible.

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