| Sourav: In fashion, like Leviís'
Johannesburg, Dec. 17: ďIf we donít win tomorrow, we shouldnít come back to the dressing roomĒ is what Sourav Ganguly had to say, rather passionately, at stumps on Day III of the opening Test.
Finally permitted by the team management to interact with the media (including The Telegraph), the former captain played an innings as memorable as his unbeaten 51 the other day. For the record, requiring 402, the South Africans were gasping at 163 for five.
Sourav stayed humble, didnít duck questions, praised successor Rahul Dravid and hoped fans across India would support those who get dropped in the same emotional manner they backed him in the past 10 months.
The following are excerpts:
On his comeback: I havenít done anything different. I worked on my fitness and played domestic cricket when I wasnít with the teamÖ. Life has come a full circle.
On teammates: They were outstanding when I was captain, they were outstanding when I wasnít in the team and theyíve been outstanding now.
On the reception from coach Greg Chappell: Everyone has been outstanding.
On whether the period after the Karachi Test was tough: It wasnítÖ I realised cricket wasnít everything. I played for Bengal and enjoyed being in the dressing room with some very talented players. I didnít know I would be picked, so itís not that I was preparing for (conditions in) South Africa.
On staying mentally tough: After playing for so many years, one has to be tough.
On whether this comeback was his biggest challenge: No. The time I was out, my mindset was if it happens, then it happens. Of course, I never stopped believing I was good enough. I believed that instead of thinking about giving it upÖ I still want to play both forms.
On his game plan at the Wanderers: My experience helped. This is my fourth trip to South Africa and Iíve also been to Australia a few times. Having played earlier, one can visualise grounds... visualise conditions.
On whether his performance here will facilitate a comeback in the ODIs as well: I know Iím good enough. Itís (the next set of ODIs) still some way off.Ö Performance counts everywhere.
Iíve batted well. Today, the challenge for me is to be consistent in the next two Tests. Iím going to judge myself at the end of the tour.
On India being in such a strong position: The bowlers have kept a fantastic length and Rahul has set outstanding fields. Iím around if advice is needed, but one doesnít have to complicate things.Ö Rahul has his way of thinking. Our performance in Tests overseas has been on the up from 2001 and beating South Africa in South Africa has to be great.
On his arrival as a Test specialist changing Indiaís fortunes: (Laughs) Hope it remains that way. People have been making too much of somebody being dropped and too much of somebody being recalled. Emotions donít matter.
On shouts of ďCome on DadaĒ at the Wanderers: Has become a fashion, like Leviís jeans!
Finally, his message for fans: Itís good to have such support, but I would like them to support everybody. In the past, Rahul has been dropped (from ODIs), Anil Kumble.Ö Sachin (Tendulkar) is the only one who hasnít been dropped. (Adds laughing) But Sachin will never be!