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Page last updated at 07:21 GMT, Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Ganguly ready for final bow

Fourth Test, Nagpur: India v Australia
Dates: 6-10 November Start time: 0400 GMT each day
Coverage: Live on Sky Sports. Text commentary on BBC Sport website

By Rahul Tandon

Sourav Ganguly
Ganguly made his Test debut in 1996 and captained India in 49 Tests

Sourav Ganguly is India's most successful captain of all time, but he is a man who has polarised opinion.

Early critics accused him of being more interested in his own well-being than his team's, while he was dubbed "Lord Snooty" when he played county cricket in England.

But it is difficult to argue with Ganguly's highly impressive record in the sport.

The 36-year-old made his Test debut against England in 1996 and has gone on to play in 112 Tests, 49 as captain, amassing 7,127 runs at an average of 42, including 16 hundreds and 34 fifties.

On the eve of his final Test match against Australia, which begins on 6 November in Delhi, BBC Sport asks Ganguly to look back on his career.

Q: You have come back so many times before. Is this really the last time we will see you playing for India?

A: "Yes, it will be the last time. The previous comebacks were different, this time I have announced my retirement.

"I feel it is the the right time to go and a few things have happened that I did not feel good about.

"I am more than 36-and-a-half years old and I have played more than 100 Test matches so I find it hard to look at the newspapers to find out whether I am in the team or not. From that point of view, I feel it is the right time to go."

Q: Let's go back to the start of your Test career at Lord's. How did you feel when you walked out to bat?
A: "I have never been in a mindset like I was in at Lord's in my whole career.

"I was just happy playing and I enjoyed every bit of those five days. It was just a different mindset.

"A lot of people told me that if I had not made runs I would probably never have played for India again, but I did not even think about that. I suppose when you are young you do not think about these things."

Q: What is it like being the captain of India?
A: "It is hard work and it does not get easier with time.

"As long as you are winning it's fine - but once you start losing, things can get pretty tough. That is the way Indian cricket goes.

"Once you get hammered day-in, day-out you get used to it. All Indian captains have been taken to the top then thrown down to the bottom.

"At one stage I stopped reading the papers as I felt if I was reading and listening too much. I was captaining for the public rather than what was best for the team."

Q: Can anyone break your record of captaining India 49 times?
A: "It will be hard to do.

"Let us see how Mahendra Dhoni goes. He has turned out to be a very good captain and I am sure if he plays well, he could captain India for a long time."

Q: What was it like losing the captaincy under previous coach Greg Chappell?
A: "It happened too fast. In the space of 10 or 12 days I lost my job - before I could do anything, it was gone.

"I was hurt and surprised. Even if I had to lose my job there were better ways of doing it, but after some time I started to deal with it."

Q: When you lost the captaincy and your place in the side, did you think that was the end of your international career?
A: "No. I never thought like that.

"I knew that I would get back in the side as there were tough series coming up and some of the players coming through were too raw to make a mark. I knew my time would come.

"Also for the first time I did not have other things to worry about and that helped me."

Q: What are the highlights of your career?
A: As a player it was my hundred at Lord's in 1996, as captain I have a few. Beating Australia at home in 2001, and winning in Pakistan against Pakistan for the first time in 50 years.

I have had a lot of great moments but my biggest achievement was in improving India's performances abroad. We were previously seen as weak travellers, now we are a force overseas as well.

Q: Are you worried about the future of Test cricket?
A: "It depends on how the authorities sell the game. If you go to England and Australia there are full houses and there are certain venues in India which get good Test crowds such as Bangalore and Calcutta.

"From a players' point of view, ask anyone and they will tell you that Test matches are the best form of the game.

"You have to make the youngsters coming through understand that Test cricket is the most important form of the game. They need to realise that you will be remembered for what you do in Test cricket, not what you do in Twenty20 or the Indian Premier League."

Q: What does the future hold for you?
A: In the future I want to help develop cricketing talent - that could be as a coach or an administrator. Let's wait and see.

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see also
Banned Gambhir misses final Test
04 Nov 08 |  Cricket
India name Ganguly in Test squad
01 Oct 08 |  Cricket
Ganguly gives India slender lead
12 Apr 08 |  Cricket
Sourav Ganguly Q&A
19 Dec 07 |  India
Australia in India 2008
13 Oct 08 |  Cricket

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