The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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I played to a definite plan and it worked: Sourav
- ‘Outstanding’ Zaheer makes India captain hopeful of a good show Down Under

Ahmedabad: Sourav Ganguly reaped the benefits of a changed style and approach during his unbeaten hundred at the Motera on Wednesday.

“I played to a definite plan today and it worked,” Sourav told The Telegraph before a media conference at Motera.

The plan involved not taking much risk, specifically not going for lofted shots or “too many strokes” during the initial stages of the innings. The big hits followed once he settled down.

“We’ve had a long break during which I did speak to a lot of people on my batting. I’ve been working on my game of late. I’ve changed my feet movement and moulded my game accordingly,” Sourav informed.

“It’s nice to start the season with a century. It gives you that extra confidence,” he added.

The Indian skipper declared immediately after reaching the milestone. Did the idea of not reaching a score around 600 cross his mind' “I had to make a decision, whether to bat on for the remainder of the day and try for 600, or whether to declare,” he said. “But had we batted on, it would have reduced the time available to bowl New Zealand out twice. Besides, with the conditions being hot, the bowlers would have had to work hard”.

He, however, felt that it was still too early for the spinners to come into the act. “There is lot of rough on the wicket but nothing dangerous. It’s a bit slow and may start turning only by tomorrow evening”.

The skipper termed Zaheer Khan’s three-wicket burst that reduced New Zealand to 41 for three as “outstanding”. “He has become a different bowler in the past one year. Even in New Zealand when there were not many runs on the board, he would bowl well. His fitness has improved considerably and for a fast bowler that makes lot of a difference,” Sourav explained.

Was Zaheer bowling under any specific instructions' “He doesn’t need any instructions. He’s been running in well and delivering the goods”.

Zaheer’s form has made Sourav hopeful of a good showing in Australia. “He’s been bowling brilliantly. It will be great if Jawagal Srinath reconsiders his decision on retirement and makes himself available for the tour Down Under. These two along with Ashish Nehra will form a lethal attacking combination.”

Sourav confirmed that it was the “infection near the groin region” that led to his sending V.V.S. Laxman at No. 5 in the batting order on the opening day. “I wasn’t fully fit. It’s a mild infection.”

Sourav was all praise for Rahul Dravid and the way he held the innings together. “He is one of the greatest batsmen in the world now. His record shows that. He’s a class act.”

He felt that there was “fair cricket” going on between these two teams now compared to the tour in New Zealand earlier this year. “ Here the pitch is nice to bat on and that’s good for both sides.”

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