The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Batting key to beating Aussies’
- Monday discharge a possibility for Sourav, who hopes to be fit for last two tri-series matches

Calcutta, Oct. 25: A good luck bat (signed by the Prime Minister himself), SMS-facilitated messages, calls to Sourav Ganguly’s Sandton Sun suite... The lead-up to the March 23 World Cup final was, to say the least, extraordinary.

Perhaps, it could only have been that way.

Today, on the eve of the first India-Australia match after that final, the scenario is different: The Team India captain is recuperating in a nursing home and the messages, understandably, have a new theme: ‘Get Well Soon’.

Of course, the bouquets haven’t stopped either — despite doctors banning flowers from Sourav’s suite — and quite a few well-wishers have been sending mithai boxes. In fact, because of Diwali, the odd dekchi of prasad has also come.

Comforting, yes, but it’s terrible for a pro sportsman to be off the field. Injuries are part of sport, but it’s frustrating when an abscess is the villain. In any case, Sourav’s recovery (from two surgeries) has been slow but steady.

The good thing, though, is that he is now saying “I’m better,” instead of weakly declaring “I’m struggling.” That alone has come as a huge relief to the First Family of Indian cricket and buddies like Joydeep Mukherjee, a former Bengal cricketer.

“At the moment, I’m hoping to be fit for the last two games (November 12 and 15) of the tri-series,” Sourav told The Telegraph this evening. To begin with, however, he must be discharged from Belle Vue. If all goes well, the doctors may recommend a Monday ‘check-out’.

Their decision will be known tomorrow morning, after the first post-stitches’ dressing of the wound in Sourav’s left upper thigh. Late last night, there was a scare when a “small boil” surfaced not too far from the initial area of trouble. Thankfully, regular hot-compress seems to have done wonders.

Having already spent eight days at the nursing home, Sourav is ‘desperate’ to get out. He quipped: “Look, now that I’ve begun to ‘fight’ with the nurses, it’s an indication that I must head home!”

Asked whether he had actually got over that World Cup final defeat, Sourav pondered and answered: “Yeah...” He wasn’t very convincing, though — in itself not unusual, given the difference between being world champions and the runners-up.

Looking to the match in Gwalior, Sourav said: “If we bat well, we’ll win... Really, batting is the key...” Are the teams, this time, evenly balanced considering a string of key performers are absent, he replied: “Going by the current XIVs, all three are placed evenly... The tournament, therefore, should be competitive.”

Will he be watching the game — Rahul Dravid’s biggest test as stand-in captain' “I will, that’s for sure,” Sourav responded, indicating he will get back to making notes for the many India-Australia matches that lie ahead in 2003-2004.

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