Seniors are terrific, even juniors chip in | india | Hindustan Times
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Seniors are terrific, even juniors chip in

As is expected before a crunch game, Sourav Ganguly was in deep thought, he had a million things to do. There was practice, the mandatory press conference and the team meeting in the evening.

india Updated: Jan 02, 2004 06:25 IST

As is expected before a crunch game, Sourav Ganguly was in deep thought, he had a million things to do. There was practice, the mandatory press conference and the team meeting in the evening.

As always, he wrestled with team selection issues, the 2 quicks/2 spinners or 3/1 option which pops up before every match. Sydney is traditionally spinner-friendly but one never knows. And if a fast bowler goes for a few early on you are naked. Scattering the slips and throwing the ball to Kumble before drinks can mean trouble.

Besides worrying about the team, Sourav had to prepare himself. Sort out his thoughts, get focussed, think about his batting, ready his equipment. His fondness for bats is legendary, his coffin supposedly contains enough bats to fill a showroom. "Nonsense,” he says with a shy smile. That is one more myth about me. Viru and Sachin probably have more in their bags than I. But he is fussy, wants his bats just right. Light at the bottom for an easy pick up but with a pronounced, thickish bulge at the back a little higher up. Then the grips — three at the bottom, four on top.

It's important Sourav gets Sydney right. Last time around in Australia, he had a miserable tour; now he has a chance to make it truly memorable and create a place for himself in history. From a team standpoint too, the opportunity is significant. Past Indian teams crumbled and collapsed when pressurised. But Sourav's team has immense self belief, in battle it does not retreat but stands up and fights.

Last couple of seasons the team has performed well but India has not won in Australia in 50 years, Australia is Waterloo for everyone. If Sourav can change this, the debate about India's progress will be settled and sealed. If India wins, the debate ceases.

It won't be easy without Zaheer, without Harbhajan, without Sachin in top form. But one must live with such losses, you play with what you have. But Sourav thinks he has players who are willing to stand up and be counted. The atmosphere in the dressing room is fantastic,he says. "The seniors are terrific , even juniors contribute freely to the discussion."

Before a game there is plenty of debate as strategies are formulated. Coach Wright sets the tone by unfolding a grand plan, thereafter others say their bit. Sourav finds this useful but points out with a mischievous half smirk, that many times plans go haywire.

Sydney is Steve Waugh's great moment, the final stop on the grand farewell for cricket's elder statesman and supreme leader. Waugh seeks one more triumph to end his magnificent career. Against him is Sourav Ganguly, no less thirsty for success.

The Test, commencing Friday morning, promises to be rivetting. Forget the cold, set the alarm for an early morning start.

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