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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 November 2006, 15:59 GMT
India banks on experience again
By Ayanjit Sen
BBC News, Delhi

Sourav Ganguly
Selector's believe Ganguly experience will help the team
Nearly 10 months after being jettisoned from the Test team, former India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly has returned to augment the batting resources.

A wealth of experience has helped him regain his place, but many believe it has also been the failure of the current batsmen to handle bouncy and fast pitches in South Africa that has prompted his recall.

Former India cricketer Vivek Razdan has no doubt why Ganguly, whose last Test was against Pakistan in January, is back in the side.

"It is a simple case of the Indian team's batting failure in South Africa," he said.

"Ganguly and V V S Laxman's presence in the team is definitely going to prove beneficial. Ganguly has spent nearly 10 months out of the team which just might have helped him rediscover his form."

Another former player, Sunil Valson, echoed that view, and told the BBC that Ganguly has proved his willingness to go through the grind by returning to domestic cricket following his omission from the team.

"Sourav's comeback will be good. His selection and past performance in South Africa will definitely boost his confidence," says Valson.

But if Ganguly fails, this could well be the last time he plays for India.

Selectors backed Chappell when he started out on his venture. But if results do not back your plans, one cannot blindly follow them

Vivek Razdan

His Test batting average in South Africa is a little over 32, while his average in one-day matches is 43, and he is regarded as India's most successful captain.

But, despite scoring a century in a domestic match in India and some good bowling spells, he has to do what youngsters like Suresh Raina and specialist batsmen like Mohammed Kaif and Dinesh Mongia have failed to do. Runs have dried up in the Indian camp.

That V V S Laxman has been selected as vice-captain of the squad over the out-of-form Virender Sehwag is reflective of that fact.

And according to Razdan, Greg Chappell's attempts to improve the team's performance by blooding in young kids have not been fully successful.

"The selectors under Dilip Vengsarkar have done the right thing by picking experience ahead of young talent because of the challenges involved in Test cricket on South African tracks," says Razdan.

"Selectors backed Chappell when he started out on his venture. But if results do not back your plans, one cannot blindly follow them.

"It is only a few months before the World Cup in the West Indies and the team is not in the winning mode yet."

Valson, on the other hand, feels the coach cannot be blamed for their failings. The cricketers have to perform, he says.

Whatever the reason, India's performances have undoubtedly dipped in recent months, so much so that some Indian politicians have called for Chappell to be sacked.

It now remains to be seen whether a return to experience can help the Bengal Tiger perform on the African safari.

SEE ALSO
Sourav Ganguly Q&A
20 Jun 06 |  India
Ganguly targets return for India
19 Jun 06 |  Northants
Gavaskar tells Ganguly to play on
26 Feb 06 |  The Ashes
India drop Ganguly for first Test
23 Feb 06 |  The Ashes


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