| crestfallen: Sourav after the loss. (AP)
Johannesburg, March 24: Nothing would have pleased Sourav Ganguly more than placing the world at India’s feet. Failure to do so has left him shattered. Last night, for instance, the India captain had shrunk to half.
“I’m sorry.... Sorry to have let you all down,” Sourav mumbled, when a well-wisher called long distance to commiserate.
Later, speaking to The Telegraph (in his hotel room), he despairingly said: “Whatever the other factors, obviously, I’m not destined to win a big final...”
In between taking another call, this time from former India spinner Dilip Doshi, Sourav added: “After a great run, we lost the ICC KnockOut final in Nairobi (by four wickets to New Zealand) and, last September, rain stopped both the scheduled and replayed final of the Champions Trophy (in Colombo).... Of course, at The Wanderers...”
Actually, there was a moment when he was inconsolable and kept repeating: “It hurts more because, till the final, we did so well.... Eight wins in succession.... The quicks getting wickets, batters getting runs.... It’s one thing being world champions, quite another being the team which only made the final...”
Sourav added: “It’s not easy accepting defeat.... That, too, in the biggest game of our lives.... It’s going to take time for me to accept this loss.... I didn’t make any predictions but, as captain, you always have that faith in your team...”
Many hours on, was he regretting having invited Australia to bat'
“No.... Given the conditions, I took the right decision. Believe me, the wicket was wet and, had we batted, we could have been shot out for.... Then, people would have been wondering why I didn’t choose to field.... At times, it’s a no-win situation,” Sourav responded, convinced that what followed, not the decision itself, made all the difference.
The captain, incidentally, finished as the second highest scorer (465 runs) — only, that’s no consolation. The No.1 spot went to Sachin Tendulkar (673). Among bowlers, Chaminda Vaas topped with 23 wickets, followed by Brett Lee (22).
While Sourav was left to reflect on what could have been, Ricky Ponting’s Australians literally had a ball. Unusually, they remained in the dressing room (“enjoying each other’s company”, as a source put it) for a few hours and, then, attended a party hosted by team sponsors Travelex.
Indeed, the sponsor would have had to travel endless miles to get the mileage provided by contemporary cricket’s most ruthless team.