The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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First priority will be to win, not milestones: Sourav

Port of Spain: Sourav Ganguly is only one run away from becoming the sixth batsman and only second Indian to complete 1000 runs in the World Cup. The former India captain, playing his third World Cup, will join the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Javed Miandad, Aravinda de Silva, Viv Richards and Mark Waugh in that elite list.

On the eve of the match versus Sri Lanka, Sourav spoke to The Telegraph at the Hilton.

The following are excerpts

On the record that awaits him

It will be nice to reach a milestone… Reaching that in the World Cup will always remain special. It will be satisfying but the first priority, when I take strike Friday, will be to win against Sri Lanka.

On his top-five one-day innings (Not in order of preference)

96 versus Pakistan in Toronto, 1997 — That series was special since three Man-of-the-Match awards helped me to become the Man-of-the-Series. We won the series 4-1. The conditions were vastly different with the ball moving around a lot more than usual. I was successful with the ball, too. The Pakistan attack included Aaqib Javed and Azhar Mahmood and it was hugely satisfying both from a personal and team perspective.

183 versus Sri Lanka in Taunton, 1999 — That was my first World Cup. We had to win that match. After the early loss of Sadagopan Ramesh, Rahul (Dravid) and I got together for a mammoth partnership. We added a record 318 runs for the second wicket. In typical English conditions the ball was moving around. But nothing could stop us that day. I was very satisfied with the knock since the timing was perfect and it helped us win the game and make the Super Six.

141 versus Pakistan in Adelaide, 2000 — Their bowling line-up was tremendous, both in terms of variety and penetration. Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar and Azhar Mahmood also used the bounce in the wicket to good effect. We had a bad Test series and needed to do well in the one-dayers. We won that match by 48 runs after Kumble took four wickets. It was very satisfying because the century had come for a winning cause.

127 versus South Africa in Johannesburg, 2001 — It was a typical Wanderers wicket where the ball was coming onto the bat. The bowling had depth with Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel and Lance Klusener firing on all cylinders. But I stood up to the challenge with grit and determination. However, we lost that match despite reaching 279.

98 versus West Indies in Nagpur, 2007 — I was making a comeback to the one-day side after nearly 15 months and was under some amount of pressure to deliver. The Test matches in South Africa had however made me confident. Everything fell in place as we decided to bat first. Even though I missed the hundred, I was pleased with the successful return. It also brightened my chances of inclusion in the World Cup squad.

On his thoughts on the eve of the Sri Lanka match

World Cup is about handling tough situations. It’s not that this is the first time we will be facing such circumstances. We have faced such must-win situations before and come out triumphant and there is no reason why we cannot repeat the same. Everyone is aware of his responsibilities. In 1999, we faced must-win matches against Sri Lanka and England and won on both occasions. Even in the last World Cup in South Africa we won nine matches in a row, after losing to Australia, that took us to the final.

On who could pose a threat for Sri Lanka

Both (Sanath) Jayasauriya and (Muttiah) Muralidharan have been in good form and we have to be careful. But we have been successful against them in recent times and can repeat the same.

On his form in this World Cup

It has been good till now. Touch wood, I have been playing well consistently. I hope to carry on in the same mould.

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