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Shami is India’s best bet: Sourav

Calutta/New Delhi: Sourav Ganguly on Tuesday rated Mohammed Shami ahead of the experienced Zaheer Khan as he said the young pacer would be India’s “best” as they begin a tough two-match Test series against South Africa in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

“I’ve seen Zaheer, Srinath in top form... But there are very few bowlers like Shami to have such a right mix of the seam position, the length and pace. I feel Shami will start the series as our best bowler even ahead of Zaheer Khan,” Ganguly told a television channel.

After the thrashing they got in the ODIs, Sunil Gavaskar feels India should adopt a patient approach in the Tests.

Asked what was the way forward, Gavaskar told a television channel from Johannesburg: “What I am confident about is that India are a fast learning team. They can pick up things pretty quickly.

“The conditions are undoubtedly tough and the South Africa pace battery won’t be easy to face. But India have depth in their batting and they just need little bit of patience.”

“His seam position, length has been fantastic. It’s a completely different Shami,” Ganguly said of the Bengal pacer who took nine wickets in his debut Test versus the West Indies in Kolkata, in Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell series.

Shami was incidentally the leading wicket taker with nine from three matches in India’s 0-2 loss to the Proteas in the recently concluded ODI series.

“Shami has got the ability to be successful for a long period of time. We won’t get a better bowling condition than this. Zaheer is making a comeback. He needs a bit of time. It’s a big opportunity to create an impact,” he said.

“Being a former captain, I don’t want to predict the scoreline. The key will be to create a mental frame of mind. Otherwise it will be difficult.”

Recollecting India’s two Test wins in South Africa, Ganguly said: “On both occasions, we batted first. It’s good to take pressure first upů If I was captain, I would go with Dale Styen, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander.

Asked whether the Proteas would resort to sledging, Ganguly said: “It will be there in Test series. India will be vulnerable. They will definitely play aggressively.”

The series will also mark the beginning of a new era without Sachin Tendulkar as there would be a new No 4. But Ganguly said it’s not fair to compare the Indian youngsters with the now retired Tendulkar.