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Time for Ganguly-bashing; but wait...

Everyone?s got the target right: Sourav Ganguly, captain of the Indian team at the moment 0-4 down to New Zealand in the 7-day ODI and trounced in the preceding Test series 0-2.

india Updated: Jan 07, 2003 16:03 IST

Everyone’s got the target right: Sourav Ganguly, captain of the Indian team at the moment 0-4 down to New Zealand in the 7-day ODI and trounced in the preceding Test series 0-2.

The New Zealand media has got after Ganguly calling him a “one-dimensional” leader and a pompous one at that. As if to push home the point reports have pointed out that Ganguly commandeered the 40-seat team bus to take his wife, kid and maid to the hotel while the rest of the team was made to wait at the Napier airport.

Ganguly will hardly be in a position to defend his captaincy or will be interested in replying to whether or not he took over the team bus for a personal errand. It is easy to pin down a man who has already taken too many jabs. The tone of the criticism is a bit unfair and harsh.

Naseer Hussain captained the England team to a 4-0 defeat before he pulled one back in the last Ashes test at Sydney. A 4-0 situation is not the end of everything. Coming back from the brink is as challenging a task as winning itself. Ganguly has still got it in him to pull something back.

When a team loses, it is mostly because the captain has not been able to assert himself. With his total failure with the bat during the tour, Ganguly might not have bothered to rally the team together with some encouraging words. If he now says something in the dressing room or in the field for that matter, he is quite likely to be snubbed. Unlike in the case of Hussain who has been in form with the bat during the Ashes series.

The reason for India’s debacle in the tour is a batting collapse. No one other than Virender Sehwag has made a big score during the ODIs Swing and unnatural bounce are the causes for the Indian batting disaster. Now it has been reported that most of the pitches have been tailor-made for India’s destruction and the ploy has worked wonderfully and beyond expectations. It might not be unjust to say that the team has been well and truly trapped.

All this is part of the great gentleman’s game called cricket New Zealand too has found it impossible to get big scores on these pitches so it is not that Stephen Fleming, unlike Ganguly, has inspired the team to great cricketing heights. In short, batting is difficult and almost impossible on the New Zealand pitches as of now.

When Rahul Dravid was bowled between his bat and pads by Andre Adams, after he confidently went into a drive was indication of the dangerous nature of the pitch which this writer had pointed out. Dravid just does not get out to such strokes or such balls.

Ganguly has no doubt been having a torrid time in the crease. He just cannot figure out which is the rising ball, which is the swinging ball and hangs his bat out to everything, just in case. A captain has to show the way in times of crisis and he has failed miserably on that count. So much so that he has apologised, a rare come-down for someone who is proud enough to commandeer the team bus.

The main reason for the overall collapse of the batting is that all of them are completely jaded. Sachin Tendulkar had a well-deserved one-month lay-off during the West Indies home series but the rest have been slogging away for almost a year without a good break. The bowlers, Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan had reasonable breaks from cricket and even Ashish Nehra hasn’t had to play all matches for one year like Ganguly or Dravid had to.

These two are the most tired among the lot and it shows.

While criticising Ganguly it must be remembered that he has held together and inspired a team to some of its greatest and even Test victories. A man who has done it once will do it again. There is no one other than Ganguly in the Indian team who can hold together a team full of contrasting personalities and totally uneven and lop-sided incomes. Ganguly might have traces of a ‘maharajah’s behaviour. But he can become a plebian whenever he wants to be one. He might take over a bus but if the need comes he can drive the team to the grounds in that same bus. That is where his success lies.

If at all, the team can still do well in the World Cup, it will be because Ganguly shows the way.

As if the team did not have enough problems the reliable batsman during a crisis—VVS Laxman—has been dropped and in his place has been brought in Dinesh Mongia whose average in ODIs this year is almost the same. If at all Mongia gets a chance to play in the World Cup, what is he going to do that Laxman cannot and that too in South Africa? The only chance Mongia will get to prove his fielding abilities is to run all over the park and get back the balls from the boundary or the stands, like a reliable Golden Retriever.

First Published: Jan 07, 2003 16:03 IST