The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘I enjoy captaining and playing overseas more’

Mumbai: With four meetings scheduled for the afternoon-evening, Sourav Ganguly had his hands full Tuesday, on the eve of yet another series. The Indian captain, however, did manage time for a hurried interview with The Telegraph at his Taj suite.

The following are excerpts

On whether, as captain, he approaches a home series differently

Not in any appreciable way, though being at home is very different... Personally, however, I enjoy captaining and playing overseas a lot more. For instance, there aren’t too many people around and one actually gets some free time. Also, overseas, there are fewer ‘demands’ to fulfil and the pressure is surely less.

On the West Indies as an opposition

As was seen during the last series, in the West Indies, they perform in a disciplined manner and I’m the last person to underestimate them, certainly not after the way they bowled at home.

On the lessons learnt from that last series, which should come in handy this time

We’ve got to stay disciplined and, just as important, shouldn’t relax.

On losing the last series (1-2) despite taking the lead, in Port-of-Spain

Remains a huge disappointment, a big regret... Our balance sheet for the year would have been so much better had we won that series.

On a purely personal disappointment — not getting a hundred in the West Indies

Yeah, I did say it will remain a regret but, at the same time, come Wednesday and a fresh opportunity will be there.

On starting this series as favourites

(Interrupting) I don’t give much credence to one team being favourites and the other labelled as the underdog. To talk of this series, what will count is how we perform over 15 days of Test cricket. That, not any label, will decide the outcome. Therefore, I’m not paying any attention to what is being talked about. Yet, it’s a fact we have been playing good cricket.

On whether, as captain, he sees a difference between the present team and the one which played in the West Indies

Yes, of course... Veeru (Virender Sehwag) wasn’t there for the Tests... Then, having proved his worth in England, we can now use Sanjay Bangar as an opener and fifth bowler. Also, at home, we will be in a position to regularly use both Anil Kumble and Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh).

On Brian Lara’s absence

Look, cricket is a team sport... Still, when a quality performer isn’t around, he is missed by everybody — paying public included — not just his team.

On his own level of confidence, after tidy scores both in the West Indies and England

Being among the runs is always nice... Touch wood, things shouldn’t change... The last Test here (against Australia) saw my form dip for some months... Hopefully, nothing of that kind will happen during this series. Talking generally, it’s difficult to understand why the Wankhede wicket had to be relaid... Indeed, in the past, it has always had something to offer... Would always be a fine Test wicket...

On criticism over Parthiv Patel’s selection (at the expense of Ajay Ratra)

If you ask me, purely as a wicketkeeper, there’s little to choose between the two. All I’ll say is that Parthiv is younger and a better batsman. Having got yet another opportunity, at such a young age, he should now make the most. At this level, it’s essential that performance reflects the ability.

On the possibility of Jawagal Srinath’s request-induced ‘comeback’ demoralising the younger new-ball bowlers

Oh, no... Let it be on record that good performances won’t go unrewarded — anybody who bowls well will be in contention. As for Srinath, we need his experience (64 Tests) and, in any case, let’s see how he comes through in this series.

On captaining with such passion

(Laughs again) My approach is driven by pride... The pride of playing for India. My teammates, too, are passionate. Moreover, what has helped is that it’s been easy working with them... All of us have a common goal.

On counterpart Carl Hooper

A fine person and a good batsman. Carl is not ordinary, otherwise, he wouldn’t have lasted 100 Tests.

Finally, on Bobby Simpson picking India as one of the three favourites for the 2003 World Cup

Bobby’s greatly respected and anything he says carries weight... (After a pause) Really, it’s nice to know our recent performances are getting recognised. At the same time, we’ve got to remain consistent between now and next February.

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