Sourav Ganguly is cautiously optimistic about defending champions India reaching the 2015 World Cup final in Australia, while VVS Laxman goes a step ahead of his former skipper to forecast a back-to-back win for the Men in Blue.
The two splendid batsmen from India’s golden generation spoke about the future of Indian cricket, and much more, at the 12th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Saturday.
Ganguly, who led the team to the 2003 World Cup final, said if India could surmount the demanding conditions in South Africa, there was no reason to believe why a side brimming with talent wouldn’t do well on Australian pitches and achieve the ultimate on foreign soil.
Former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly (right) and former cricketer VVS Laxman (extreme left) in conversation with HT's Soumya Bhattacharya. (Gurinder Osan/HT photo)
“India will go far. I would rather say till the final. They are a terrific one-day side, outstanding match-winners, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni. They will be in Australia for two months, they will be ready for the conditions, whether they get battered or win (the Tests),” he said.
The wristy Laxman, whose biggest moments were against Australia and in their backyard, said India would go all the way and win their third World Cup.
“We’ll win the title. India won the Champions Trophy (in England in 2013) without losing a game … It will be about being consistent for one-and-a-half months in the World Cup,” he said.
A tough four-Test series with Australia and a limited-over tri-series, with England as the third party, would test the Indian side as well as prepare them for the World Cup, starting on February 14.
Ganguly said the current crop of players has the potential to emulate the competitive side he had in 2003-04, which produced one of India’s greatest Test wins in Adelaide riding on spectacular performances from Rahul Dravid, Laxman and Ajit Agarkar to hold the home side to a 1-1 series draw.
“The Adelaide win injected a certain amount of steel in the side. There were players who were quite reserved, who didn’t talk much. But all of them shared one goal. They wanted Indian cricket to reach its potential. The win was the first step,” he said.
The big test for Dhoni will be to find a way to reverse his abysmal captaincy record in overseas Tests. India have lost 13 of their last 17 Tests played abroad. “It has been a problem since 2011 and the batting hasn’t stood up,” Ganguly said.
Laxman, on the other hand, said the tour would provide a perfect opportunity for pacers Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Varun Aaron to deliver the goods. “It is exciting to see a lot of young Indian fast bowlers come through, now it is about converting talent. They won at Lord’s but it is about maintaining consistency.”