The evening was about him - the warrior prince - but Sourav Ganguly ensured that Indian cricket's newest galactico would get more than a mention.
"Virat Kohli's 183 was the best one-day innings I have seen in recent times," Ganguly said at a function on Monday organised to launch
the DVD of a documentary on him. "Kohli is the right person to replace Rahul Dravid at No.3 for India," he said.
Taken in conjunction with his comment at a later stage that "Rahul Dravid made as much impact on Indian cricket as Sachin Tendulkar," this was as ringing an endorsement of Kohli's batsmanship as can be.
In an evening studded with anecdotes such as "Sachin Tendulkar rides the exercise cycle slower than (daughter) Sana," Ganguly talked the gathering through his days as a player, the highs and the inevitable lows that followed.
Ganguly said he lived with the notion that the best Indian captain was always the next man. "In my time, the feeling was Rahul, the vice-captain, would make a better leader, and when Sachin was captain, I was told I should be leading the team."
Best time of his life
He said the period between 2001 and '04 was his most satisfying as India captain. "John Wright (then coach) had his way of doing things. It wasn't as if we always agreed, but he always had India's interest at heart," Ganguly said.
Wright, Ganguly said, introduced the culture of fitness to the team. "I remember the times when we would do a lap and sit down with coffee. And then late in 2000, we met Wright and (physio) Andrew Leipus. After preliminary introductions, we were told since this was the first day, we would start with 10 laps."
Ganguly said he was fortunate to have a group of guys hungry to do well overseas. "It was a mixture of a shift in attitude and wanting to do well for India abroad and the fact that we had a great group of players."
When the conversation shifted to former coach Greg Chappell, Ganguly, sounding like anything but a warrior, said though he felt he wasn't dropped for the right reasons, there is always an opportunity to make up.
And that wasn't all. "Greg had a lot of ideas about cricket. His ideas about batting were phenomenal...But you don't have all the qualities, do you?" he said.
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