| Sourav Ganguly on his arrival in the city on Sunday. A Telegraph picture
Sourav Ganguly has made critics eat more than just words, but Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene’s take is that he shouldn’t ever have been written off.
Speaking to The Telegraph in Visakhapatnam before boarding a Chennai-bound flight on the way home, he said: “Sourav’s strong comeback hasn’t surprised me... He had two things going for him — experience and determination...
“Experience to handle both the good and bad times and the determination to overcome massive odds... Players like Sourav must not be written off... I certainly haven’t been stumped by his recent performances...”
Jayawardene didn’t say so, but he could himself draw inspiration from Sourav. After all, he managed no more than 41 in the four-match series and his failure impacted on Sri Lanka’s fortunes.
In fact, by emerging Man of the Series in the lead-up to the World Cup, Sourav has surely made teams review their India-specific strategy.
The former captain, of course, could have got three hundreds in the series versus the West Indies and Sri Lanka. “Yes, I had the chance (in Nagpur, Vadodara and Rajkot)... It happens... The positive side is that I got good scores...”
Some find it difficult to believe, but his 22nd and last ODI hundred was against Kenya in the semi-finals of the 2003 World Cup.
Even if Sourav didn’t get a hundred in the last four weeks, he top-scored in the twin series — despite being rested for one ODI (Chennai, versus the West Indies). Thanks to the unbeaten 58 on Saturday, Sourav totalled 347 to average a shade under 70.
Awesome, but more important is carrying this form — or “momentum” as captain Rahul Dravid put it nicely — into the most awaited tournament.
Having returned home on Sunday, Sourav intends taking a couple of days off before resuming fitness training. “How we turn up in the West Indies is important... The days leading up to our departure are critical. Each one of us has to manage this time well...”
Team India’s West Indies-bound flight is scheduled in the early hours of March 1.
Sourav, by the way, declined to comment on coach Greg Chappell’s assertion in these columns on Saturday that “if we hadn’t taken the decision (to drop him) when we did, I don’t think he would have been back in time for the World Cup.”
But, then, it’s best for batsmen to respond with the willow rather than mere words. Sourav has done that. And, how!