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All the teams are on an equal footing: Sourav

Sourav Ganguly at JU Salt Lake Campus ground, on Wednesday

Calcutta: Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) are certainly on a roll in IPL VII, recording comprehensive victories over the Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad.

With Glenn Maxwell in sensational form, it seems Kings XI are determined to go the distance this time around. But according to Sourav Ganguly, it’s too early to predict them as favourites.

Sourav feels there’s not much of a difference in the strengths and weaknesses of each of the teams. “This is the first-ever IPL where all teams are on an equal footing… Can’t term Kings XI or any other team as favourites at the moment,” the former India captain remarked after the conclusion of CAB’s ‘Vision 2020’ three-day camp for batsmen, at the Jadavpur University Salt Lake Campus ground, on Wednesday.

Sourav, though, was all praise for Aussie swashbuckler Maxwell whose exploits have been pivotal in the Kings XI’s impressive show. He also lauded the efforts of South African left-hander David Miller.

“Maxwell has been unbelievable to say the least… Terrific batting… And so is Miller. He, too, has done a fine job so far,” Sourav said.

Talking about the three-day camp, Sourav termed the endeavour as a forever process, where the effort will be on churning out both Test and one-day players from Bengal.

Besides, he believes Manoj Tiwary, Wriddhiman Saha and Mohammed Shami need to be nurtured further even though they already have been part of Team India’s scheme of things.

“These camps are a forever process. We selected 25 players from this camp, while another group will be selected from districts as well. Now, to cement your place in the Bengal team, you need to score runs regularly.

“It’s not that junior players will be given preference over seniors. You score consistently and you get selected… That’s it.

“It’s important we produce players (from Bengal) capable of making it big both in Tests and one-dayers. Even Manoj, Wriddhi and Shami need to be nurtured ... They are still young and not finished products yet,” Sourav explained.

To bring about improvement in the present structure of club cricket, Sourav feels stretching the two-day league matches to three or four-day ties could be a way out. “We have to see if we can make the league matches a three-day or four-day affair and start more tournaments,” he said.

Stressing on the requirement of spinners who could make a difference in each of the three formats, Sourav feels the tweakers should work on the tips from Muttiah Muralidharan and try to get better. About promising spinner Amir Gani, Sourav said: “We can take Gani to the well, but he has to drink the water himself.”

Moving on to the Indian Soccer League (ISL), Sourav, being one of the co-owners of the Calcutta franchise, which has tied up with Atletico de Madrid, informed that the club officials will arrive in the city on May 5 and are likely to declare the team’s name the day after.

“The name of the team has already been decided. But I can’t disclose it now in the absence of other co-owners,” he said.

The players in the team will sport the same rojiblanco, which Atletico Madrid players wear during La Liga and Uefa Champions League matches.

Fifa had asked for relaying of the turf at the Salt Lake Stadium for the 2017 Under-17 World Cup. The removal of the artificial turf was supposed to start from October, which means the venue would not be able to host all their matches.

Sourav, however, emphasised on the Calcutta franchise playing all their home matches at the Salt Lake Stadium when the inaugural ISL kicks off.

“If the ISL is part of an AIFF venture, how can you not let the Calcutta franchise play at Salt Lake (Stadium)? How can the fit certificate be given to the venue so early when the under-17 World Cup is still three years from now?” he asked.

“If ISL is successful, it will only benefit Indian football. Besides, players from East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, too, can play in this competition being part of the Calcutta team,” Sourav added.