The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘I play to win every game’
- There’s excitement, yes, but also some nervousness: Sourav Ganguly

Bangalore: “There’s excitement, yes, but also some nervousness... After all, I’ve been off cricket for a month,” remarked Team India captain Sourav Ganguly, for whom Wednesday’s game versus Australia will be his first in the current tri-series.

Speaking to The Telegraph at The Taj West End poolside, before an afternoon workout at the Chinnaswamy, on match-eve, he added: “Actually, after being operated upon for the second time (owing to an abscess on the left thigh), I feared I would be away from the game for two months... That had been the initial assessment of one of my doctors... Thankfully...”

Surgery No. 1 was in Mohali on October 14, while the next was in Calcutta less than five days later. In fact, the second operation made Sourav spend nine days at Belle Vue. Only once before — in late 1996 — did he have such a lengthy fitness-related lay-off.

“Of course, it’s never easy making a return after a lay-off, more so having undergone surgeries... But, then, I was determined on an early comeback and the rehab worked beautifully,” Sourav pointed out. It’s another matter that his return coincides with India struggling for a place in the November 18 final.

“Look, our task is well and truly cut out... I know people have been talking about the (November 15) match against New Zealand being a virtual semi-final, but I play to win every game... Tomorrow’s match comes first, the one in Hyderabad is later,” Sourav said emphatically.

In Sourav’s opinion, New Zealand ought to have put it across Australia both in Pune and Guwahati: “Poor catching doomed the Black Caps in Pune, while Michael Bevan (84 not out off 97 deliveries) was brilliant in Guwahati... It’s not that the world champions have looked invincible...”

According to Sourav, Damien Martyn’s 100 at the Wankhede remains the most outstanding innings from any Australian. That effort helped inflict a crushing 77-run defeat on India. Where the bowlers are concerned, at different times, quite a few proved effective.

Having come off a significant break — specifically, missing the Mohali Test and four ODIs — Sourav has been spending time with his players and, before the day’s workout, visited the computer analyst for an “update” on the Australians.

It’s going to be his first game versus the world champions after an eminently forgettable show at the Wanderers, on March 23.

“I think an interaction was necessary as the team had a different captain for a month... Even otherwise, it’s not unusual for me to speak to the players... One-on-one or in a group,” Sourav explained.

Incidentally, Ricky Ponting and Sourav crossed at the poolside and greeted each other rather warmly. While the Australian captain queried about Sourav’s “health,” the latter wanted to know if Ponting’s wife (Rianne, who has just got her law degree) had come on tour. She hasn’t.

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