Steve Smith’s transformation proved me wrong, says Sourav Ganguly
Steve Smith’s ‘transition from good batsman to great batsman’ reason behind Australia losing 1-2 and not 0-4 as predicted by him, says former India captain Sourav Ganguly.cricket Updated: Apr 01, 2017 14:49 IST
Former India skipper Sourav Ganguly had predicted that India would sweep the four-Test series against Australia which finally ended 2-1 in favour of the hosts. In a column for the ICC, Ganguly wrote why he was proved wrong.
“Not because India didn’t play well but because Australia’s captain Steve Smith decided to make the transition from a good batsman to a great batsman during this series,” Ganguly wrote.
“The century he scored in Pune ranks amongst one of the best by a visiting batsman in India — and I have seen many,” Ganguly added.
On a Pune wicket that was turning square, Steve Smith scored a brilliant 109 to help Australia record a 333-run win against India in the first Test. Ganguly’s prediction was proved wrong early in the series.
“Maybe playing on that pitch in Pune was a mistake as it allowed even an ordinary spinner like Steve O’Keefe that much bite,” Ganguly wrote.
“India was always expected to beat New Zealand and it recorded a clean sweep. England, I had thought, would give India the toughest fight.
“To be honest, it probably was the weakest opponent. That series was played on good pitches and remember how England won most of the tosses and yet couldn’t capitalise on starts.
“Its bowling was hardly international class in these conditions and the two spinners, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, bowled two-three ‘hit-me’ balls every over to the likes of Virat and others! England never stood a chance if its bowlers were going to concede so many runs, and at such a brisk pace.
“Bangladesh too realistically never stood a chance and it was during that Test that I predicted a 4-0 brownwash for India against Australia.
“I was proved wrong,” Ganguly wrote.
There was another instance where the former India skipper accepted that he was wrong. He had thought Virat Kohli as captain may not flourish after the heartbreak at Galle where “from a seemingly-unassailable position, India slipped and lost the Test”.
“For a young captain and an equally young team, it was a heartbreak and I was actually worried for Virat Kohli,” Ganguly wrote. “But I was wrong.”
“Like any good leader, Virat sensed the problem, spoke to his team and what has followed since has reinforced my belief in him and his team.
“The last 12-odd months have taken me back to my playing days, when I was the captain and Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, combined with youngsters like Yuvraj, Harbhajan, Sehwag, Zaheer, Dhoni and Nehra to pitchfork India as one of the most daring teams in the world.
“And having watched the last 13 home Tests, I hope Virat and his team really has the potential to win anywhere - in or outside India,” Ganguly wrote.