The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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(From top) Wasim Akram, Barry Richards, Ravi Shastri, Aamer Sohail and Kepler Wessels

Johannesburg: As it turned out, the bowlers did even better, but Team Indiaís first innings in the opening Test was built around former captain Sourav Gangulyís unbeaten 51. The Telegraph spoke to batting great Barry Richards and four former captains, all of whom are here on Media assignments, for their reactions.

The following are excerpts :

Wasim Akram: Sourav has been known to perform under pressure, but he produced a very good effort... The innings is going to satisfy him, make him feel better. As you know, Iíve always backed him.

Barry Richards: Full marks to Sourav, though the South Africans erred... They shouldíve bowled more round the wicket and didnít bowl enough short-pitched deliveries... Having said that, he played very well... Frankly, I didnít know what to expect of him, once he got picked for the Test series, as heís known to be soft in certain conditions. However, if he gets more runs in the series, one may have to revise that opinion.

Ravi Shastri: A very, very good innings... I liked Souravís approach, attitude and composure... Making a comeback isnít easy, but he was willing to fight it out... He has played a lot of good innings, but wonít forget this in a hurry. Iím a pretty balanced person and, so, donít get carried away... Still, if he continues with this form, heíll be in the World Cup squad. His experience is going to be handy.

Aamer Sohail: He played a very impressive innings... Having myself made a few comebacks, I know how tough it is to make a return... And, letís not forget that till the other day, two members of the thinktank didnít want him around... What stood out was Souravís calmness... He didnít get rattled and, as important, was patient... Most batsmen quickly want to reach the 30s, but Sourav was in no hurry... Excellent, really.

Kepler Wessels: Sourav showed character... He stayed composed and fought it out... Iím not surprised as Iíve got high regard for his mental toughness... He showed he wanted to be there, if you get what I mean... One innings alone can never fully revive somebodyís career, but another good one will certainly do so... What has probably helped is that he had nothing to lose... Heíd, in any case, been out for ten months.

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