|Sourav Ganguly during a promotional, in the city, on Monday. A Telegraph picture
Calcutta: From the highs of the 2011 World Cup triumph to the pits of eight Test losses in England and Australia, the Indian team’s dramatic decline was the talking point of the cricket fraternity not so long ago.
During those difficult days, it was not just captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni who faced the heat, coach Duncan Fletcher too had to digest criticism from fans and pundits alike.
But India’s recent successes, like their heroic run in the Champions Trophy, have pushed back those sorry records into oblivion.
In this cricket crazy nation, there can be a hundred reviews of the good performances. But there will be few as good as one from former India captain Sourav Ganguly, the man who lived his life on the field in varied shades of light and darkness.
Speaking on the sidelines of an art exhibition, organised by Emami Chisel Art, Sourav said that the work ethic that Dhoni and Fletcher has put into the Indian team has resulted in improved performances.
“Dhoni and Fletcher have faced a lot of criticism last year… See, when you are the captain and coach of the Indian team, you cannot run away from the brickbats. But you need to have a strong character to weather the storm… I think they have done that successfully.
“Actually, they have found the pulse of the side… They needed time to get their act right. Now they have got the formula right and they need to maintain the same momentum in the future also,” Sourav said.
Talking about the future, India’s upcoming tour of South Africa later this year is going to be a big challenge for the Dhoni-Fletcher duo.
As part of preparations, the Board has sent the ‘A’ team to South Africa. The youngsters, led by Cheteshwar Pujara, have been doing quite well and, in fact, have already won a tri-series.
But that’s not reason enough to convince a seasoned man like Sourav. He made it clear that the tour proper will be a different story altogether.
“No doubt, India A are playing well in the ongoing tour… They have performed remarkably well. But it will be a different ballgame altogether when the India tour begins…
“See, we cannot deny that India are playing well these days. They have won the Champions Trophy in England and the tri-series in the West Indies quite convincingly. But things will be difficult and different in South Africa. So they need to play at their best,” Sourav said.
Speaking further about India’s chances in South Africa, Sourav said: “The South African conditions are ideal for fast bowling. So the performance of our pacers will be key.
“The current crop of Indian bowlers are a good lot… They have been bowling well. So it’s imperative for them to maintain their rhythm and do the basics right in South Africa.”
During the South Africa tour, Sachin Tendulkar is set to reach another milestone if he plays two more Tests. That will take him to a staggering 200 Tests. According to Sourav, it will be an achievement difficult to match.
“It’s going to be a huge achievement… I don’t think anybody can ever match that feat (of playing 200 Tests).”
Sourav was also asked for his views on Sachin’s recent comment that “selection is not about looking at the scorebook.”
“Sachin’s comments have been blown out of proportion… I was there when he made those comments. He meant something else. It was a harmless statement.”
Meanwhile, the proceeds from the exhibition will be used for the rehabilitation of Uttarakhand flood victims. Sourav revealed that he has already contributed a huge sum to help the flood victims.