The Telegraph
Wednesday , December 5 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sachin is always a match-winner: Sourav

Navjyot Singh Sidhu (from left), Kapil Dev, Ramiz Raja, Arun Lal and Sourav Ganguly during a promotional, at a city hotel, on Tuesday. A Telegraph picture

Calcutta: Former captains Kapil Dev and Sourav Ganguly have urged Team India to focus on their game without thinking much about what the Eden Gardens wicket has on offer.

“It will be good for India if they don’t think much about the wicket and keep it out if their minds. I’m sure these factors will vanish once the Test starts… What the team need most is a good wicket and that will brighten their chances,” Sourav said at a promotional organised by Star Cricket on Tuesday.

Sourav also defended 83-year-old Eden curator Prabir Mukherjee. “He never listens to anybody. Even when I was the captain, he would never listen to me.”

Kapil felt much should not be read into the pitch row.

“The media has blown it out of proportion, it’s a small issue. Let’s admit we didn’t do well in Mumbai… Get the pitch factor out of your heads! The captain is right in asking for home advantage.

“We should work together and there should be no egos involved. Country should always come first,” India’s first World Cup winning captain said.

Sourav came out in support of Sachin Tendulkar. “Sachin is always a match winner… If Sachin gets to 30, he’ll score a big one at the Eden,” predicted Sourav.

Navjyot Singh Sidhu was more vocal. “Sachin is an institution… We need to respect our heroes and stand by them. Remember Australia stood by Mark Taylor as captain when he failed for one and a half years. Later when he was back in form, he got hundreds and triple hundreds.”

Kapil supported Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s continuance as captain.

“It’s up to the selectors to take a call on him… But let me just remind you of his track record. Give him some more chance… He has the ability,”,” said Kapil.

Kapil, however, cautioned that things will change if the series is lost.

Former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja said India should look to attack Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen if they wish to make a comeback in the series.

Ramiz felt India were seemingly desperate to avenge their 0-4 defeat.

“They seemed to be in a hurry in preparing a rank turner in Mumbai. They could have taken it easy after their fine win in Ahmedabad.

“Only two English batsmen — Cook and Pietersen — are in form. Indian bowlers should be aggressive and look to attack them...”

Ramiz also found loopholes in India’s strategy. “There were only three maidens during the Pietersen-Cook partnership in Mumbai. Better strategy and selection is expected…”

Kapil flayed Harbhajan Singh’s performance in Mumbai. “I was saddened with Bhajji’s body language in Mumbai. He doesn’t deserve to play his 100th Test here… He needs to perform with josh.”

Sidhu was saddened by India’s plight. “India’s fortress is shaken. We have to see who takes the cake. India are currently on a descend... We are not here for hospitality. It has to be patta or turning wicket. You should always capitalise on your stre1ngths,” he said.

“It has never happened in the past 30 years. I don’t remember any team coming here and dominating our spinners.”