The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Comeback grit & guts on trial
Sourav Ganguly and Brian Lara chat during practice on Saturday, a day before the first ODI in Nagpur. The match will be telecast from 9 am on Neo Sports. (AP)

Jan. 20: The debonair Yuvraj Singh, once seen as Sourav Ganguly’s “boy”, had barely landed in Calcutta last evening when a petite assistant manager of a private carrier welcomed him and, then, began going gaga over the former Team India captain’s “determination”.

“What determination! Just look at Sourav.… A comeback even in the one-dayers,” she said passionately. Yuvraj, working towards a comeback of his own after a terrible injury, nodded in agreement: “Absolutely, that’s determination.…”

Indeed, that alone has taken Sourav to Nagpur, where the first ODI versus the West Indies gets under way tomorrow. His last appearance in that form of the game was in Harare, more than 16 months ago.

Mohinder Amarnath got labelled India’s comeback man, but Sourav’s has been extraordinary. He believes “sport is different from fairy tales”, but his return fits that category.

Plus Sourav’s going to open (with Gautam Gambhir and with a heavier bat than in South Africa), a slot he’d vacated in the “team’s interest” when every word of his was a command.

Frankly, even the most sycophantic of scriptwriters couldn’t have visualised such a comeback when, nine months ago, the Greg Chappell-Rahul Dravid combination was toasting a record 17 successive wins batting second.

Few remembered that the first two in that sequence had actually begun at the fag end of Sourav’s captaincy.

Brian Lara is convinced Sourav won’t take time to settle down. That’s a handsome compliment, but one expects somebody with Sourav’s credentials (279 ODIs, 10,123 runs, 22x100) to be up for it from ball one.

It’s debatable whether even a 30-hour day would be enough for Sourav to meet the demands when in Calcutta, but he took time off (before heading for Nagpur) to speak at length to The Telegraph.

He was emotional.

Sourav, however, preferred not to talk about the coach. Nor, for example, captaincy. But he still said a lot (interview in Sport). His message, sharp and simple: don’t give up.

During the interaction, he confessed to feeling “lonely” when Dravid’s men hammered Pakistan in the Karachi ODI last February to take that series with an awesome 4-1 margin. He talked about having missed the “challenge” of competing against the best.

The revelation came in the manner Sourav handled the question on former coach John Wright’s book, Indian Summers. “He has said the truth.… As an individual, he’s entitled to an opinion and I have to respect it.…”

The one-time partners, perhaps, will hug each other should they meet (as is likely) in the World Cup. One as a player, the other in his latest avatar —that of a commentator on TV.

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