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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 December 2007, 03:47 GMT
Sourav Ganguly Q&A
Sourav Ganguly
Ganguly will win his 100th Test cap against Australia

Freed from the weight of responsibility that comes with the Indian captaincy, many believe Sourav Ganguly is now playing his best ever cricket.

India's most successful Test captain - with 21 wins between 2000 and '05 - is enjoying life and hitting peak form with the bat.

From his removal from the India team in early 2006 to his impressive comeback, the left-hander told BBC Sport's Rahul Tandon how India can win in Australia next month.


You're coming up to your 100th Test. Is it going to be emotional?

It will be a happy moment, more than emotional. It is a landmark for any cricketer. It will be satisfying more than any emotions.

There must have been times in recent years when you thought you would never achieve this?

Yes, especially when I was dropped. There have been times when I felt I might not play again. Obviously sometimes things didn't work out for the team so I thought there might be an opportunity to come back.

From when I was dropped to now there is some difference, but I have played this well in the past

Sourav Ganguly

They must have been difficult times. Do you think you have come out stronger?

I am mentally tougher and more determined. I also have a completely different mindset.

Once you have played international cricket for 11 or 12 years, with the hustle and bustle, things keep on happening, you're on the fast track, you don't realise certain things.

But once you go away from it for a certain amount of time your perspective changes, it helps you to come back a better person.

Having gone away from Test cricket did you find that you missed it more than you thought you might?

Yes, you miss the competition. That's the thing. Every time you get runs in Test cricket [you have] the satisfaction that you are still good enough to play at the top. It's the challenge you miss.

Did you ever doubt you were good enough?

When you are dropped or go through bad phases, obviously such things do go through your mind - anyone who says they don't would be lying.

But then as a cricketer when you have played for such a long time, you find ways to come out of it. You start thinking, I've done it before so why not again? You work a bit harder and that's have you come out of it.

The way you are batting now, some well-respected cricket writers are saying this is the best you have ever played. Do you feel that yourself?

I've played well in the last one year but I have played well even in the past also. From when I was dropped to now there is some difference, but I have played this well in the past.

Because you don't have the captaincy, is it a lot easier to go out there and concentrate on your batting?

It's definitely easier because you have a lot less to worry about. You are not worried about your team or team members - all you are doing is looking after your cricket, your fitness, your training, your nets, and resting in the room.

GANGULY FACTFILE
Born July 8, 1972, Calcutta
Made Test debut in England in 1996
Is a right-handed bowler - despite batting with left
One of only seven batsmen to register 10,000-plus ODI runs
Nicknames include Bengal Tiger, Prince of Calcutta, Lord Snooty, and Dada

You mind is not occupied with all the things that a captain has to do, like facing the media and answering questions every day. So all this leaves you feeling a lot fresher.

Your whole game seems well at the moment. You have taken a few crucial wickets when bowling. Is this your moment?

It happens and you hit such patches. But I feel they are interrelated. If you do well in one, it obviously gives you more confidence to do better in the other. It's like a keeper-batsman. If you keep well you automatically look much more confident with the bat.

Is Australia the hardest tour in cricket?

It is. It's a tough tour in cricket, there is no doubt about it. We did well in 2003 when we went there and, to be honest this time, without McGrath and Warne, I'm sure that's going to make a difference.

Do you think the Australians now fear India a little bit?

I wouldn't say it is fear. But they know this is a team which can challenge them and beat them. I spoke to some of the other players when they were in India, and they feel we are the only team which competes with them.

They have probably beaten most other teams quite easily, apart from the Ashes in 2005, so it is for this reason it will be a tightly-contested series.

One thousand runs in a calendar year. Do you set yourself goals before you go to Australia?

Our performances overseas have improved by leaps and bounds from when I started my career as a player in 1996

Sourav Ganguly

We just want to do well in the four Test matches. Take one test at a time and try and do our best. Once you get to 100 Test matches, you don't have specific goals after that.

What will be a good result for India?

Obviously if we can win the series, that will be fantastic. But we know we will have to play really well to do it. It's not impossible. If we don't lose the series, we will be very satisfied.

Probably for you, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble, it will be your last tour to Australia. Does that make you even more determined?

Yes, it does. You saw that when we went to England this time, we knew it was the last time, so we were really keen to do well and win the series.

Our performances overseas have improved by leaps and bounds from when I started my career as a player in 1996.

So from that point of view we will take confidence and, as it's the last series, we will definitely try and make this a memorable one.

What has been the most satisfying aspect of your comeback, proving other people wrong or proving something to yourself?

Proving something to myself - I have never tried in my career to prove anything to anyone else. The most satisfying thing is that I could come out of it and perform. And all the performances have come when the team have required it most.

Whether in South Africa, or England, or even in the last test match in Bangalore when we were 60-4 and 20-2 in the second innings, so it's come in a situation when the team wanted it badly. That is satisfying.

Your 100th Test is coming up. How many more after that?

I will definitely go on this year to 2008. Then we'll see after that.



SEE ALSO
India secure draw to win series
12 Dec 07 |  Cricket
India in Australia 2007-08
21 Apr 07 |  Cricket


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