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Sunday, 3 February, 2002, 22:30 GMT
Ganguly under pressure
Sourav Ganguly is stumped by James Foster
Ganguly looks back in despair as his wicket falls
By BBC Sport Online's Thrasy Petropoulos

As England's cricketers cavorted with delight on securing their thrilling five-run win in Mumbai, Sourav Ganguly rose from his chair and kicked an empty water bottle away in disgust.

For the second match running, India's captain had witnessed his middle and lower order throw away a position of complete dominance.

Three matches ago, the trials and tribulations of recent weeks had seemed to disappear for Ganguly as he led his side to a landslide victory in Kanpur and an unassailable 3-1 lead in the six-match series.

But then came Delhi and defeat by two runs, and now this, potentially his most costly setback during his tenure as captain.

Sourav Ganguly sweeps during the final one-day international
Ganguly made one rash mistake at the end of a rash innings
The scorebook will show that the one-day series with England was drawn.

Within the Indian dressing-room, however, the atmosphere will be one of anger and frustration.

Already Ganguly's grasp on the Indian captaincy had appeared weak. Now his many detractors will doubtless renew their demand for a change in leadership.

Set against the drive and purpose of a limited, but spirited, England side, India have appeared vulnerable throughout England's tour.

And that is despite their victory in the first Test and their early dominance of the one-day series.

As captain, Ganguly must take responsibility for gelling the many talents at his disposal into a cohesive whole.

Withering assault

But despite the individual brilliance of Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, India have been hindered by a clear lack of unity when chasing targets.

Furthermore, Anil Kumble won rave reviews for his positive leadership when he took over the reins in Chennai.

And Sehwag successfully staked his claim for Ganguly's spot as opener with his withering assault on England's bowlers in Kanpur.

Ironically, however, in the last two one-day matches, Ganguly finally found the form that has brought him 18 one-day hundreds and, in both games, he seemed to be leading his side to series-clinching victories.

Andrew Flintoff leads England's celebrations after drawing the series
England's celebrations were not a happy sight for Ganguly
Indeed, by smiting three predetermined leg-side sixes off Ashley Giles, he had single-handedly stamped his authority on the match in Delhi.

But, with Tendulkar and Sehwag back in the pavilion and a largely unproven middle-order waiting to come in, Ganguly should have known better than to attempt a fourth six off Giles when the game was as good as won.

He holed out to long-off for 74, precipitating a collapse that brought England four wickets for 29 runs.

As a result, the task of scoring nine runs for victory off the final over, from Andrew Flintoff, proved beyond Ajit Agarkar and Sarandeep Singh.

Ganguly let it be known afterwards that he lay the blame squarely on the middle order that had failed to build on his start.

If those comments seemed a trifle ungracious from a captain, he was fully justified to feel aggrieved at those same players for their efforts in Mumbai.

Momentum

This time Ganguly could not be blamed as he dragged an attempted sweep off Giles back on to his stumps, ending a fine 80 from 99 balls.

With six wickets and more than 10 overs in hand to score the 65 runs needed for victory, he would have been confident that this time the momentum he had helped build up would see his side over the finish line.

As in any close match, there were countless moments that he could point to as being decisive - not least the nine-ball over from Agarkar that had brought 17 runs, five of them in wides and four in overthrows.

But, from an Indian perspective, England should not have been allowed to recover from 174-7 to be 255 all out.

And they should certainly not have been able to defend their total once Sehwag and Ganguly had once again run amok in reply.

The Indian selectors will ponder their options ahead of India's next venture, to the Caribbean.

They must answer the question that will determine Ganguly's fate: was the captain only as good as his side, or the side only as good as the captain?

Links to more Cricket stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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