Calcutta: Three months short of completing three years as India captain, Sourav Ganguly’s “this (New Zealand tour) may be my last chance to win a series abroad…” comment, in Wellington Wednesday, has caused a flutter.
However, as it turns out, that isn’t exactly what the captain stated while interacting with the Media there.
“I was asked about being one short of Mohammed Azharuddin’s record of 14 Test wins and, from what I remember, I talked about the current series being a golden chance or something to that effect.
“If there was any reference to ‘last,’ it must have been in the context of the on-going tour being our last — featuring Tests, that is — for quite some time,” Sourav told The Telegraph, when contacted at the team hotel Thursday.
In fact, Sourav added: “If the impression is that I’m on the verge of quitting, that’s nonsense. Obviously, at this moment, my focus is wholly on the current series and, soon, all the attention will be on the (February 8-beginning) World Cup.”
Clearly, the captain hasn’t been amused by a misrepresentation of what he really said. Worse, Day-I of the Test series, at blustery Basin Reserve, hardly gave him anything to cheer.
With New Delhi unlikely to clear the Indian team’s visit to Pakistan (for a full series), in April-May, the next set of Tests overseas will be in Australia — 2003-2004. Actually, in exactly a year from now.
That, by any yardstick, is quite some time away.
Yet, if Sourav’s form holds good and — more important — he continues to be hungry to lead, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t have at least one more opportunity at trying to win an away-series.
Incidentally, while the Indians will have played as many as 16 Tests before this year ends, 2003 may see a maximum of six only: Three versus New Zealand at home; three in Australia.
India’s first engagement after the World Cup, by the way, is expected to be the much-delayed Asia Cup in Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, the Board of Control for Cricket in India will pick the 30 World Cup probables on December 18.
Their inclusion in the final 15, though, will depend on the “satisfactory ending of disputes surrounding the contracts (Player Terms).”
The squad for the seven ODIs in New Zealand, too, will be picked that day. Both the probables and the NZ-15 will be selected in Calcutta.
While Bengal captain Rohan Gavaskar won’t make the shorter list, it will be a surprise if he doesn’t make the 30. An equally strong contender, from these parts, is quick Ranadeb Bose.