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Last Updated:  Saturday, 8 March, 2003, 10:10 GMT
Ganguly: Captain of contrasts
By Thrasy Petropoulos
BBC Sport in Cape Town

Sourav Ganguly could not have been more polite when he was asked a question by an Indian journalist.

Ganguly completes a hundred against Kenya
Ganguly rose to the occasion with his side in trouble against Kenya

"Why, do you think, have India been fielding so badly, Sourav?"

"That has not been an issue," he replied with a gentle smile.

"But why, do you think, has the fielding not been good," the journalist came back.

Ganguly had had enough.

"There has been nothing wrong with the fielding," he barked.

And the journalist looked sheepishly into his notebook.

Less than a week later, Ganguly presided over one of the worst fielding displays at the World Cup as his side made heavy weather of beating Kenya in the Super Sixes.

He also presided over one of the most important innings of the tournament.

And that, in a nutshell, is Ganguly.

Stubborn to the point of recklessness, there are few more determined cricketers in the game.

Aloof one minute, charming the next, he is rarely anything but presidential in his approach to the Indian captaincy.

He jokes about his inability to act as peacemaker in his country's famously political cricket circles.

Yet he takes himself seriously enough to have considered his position as captain during his recent lean run with the bat.

Yuvraj Singh embraces Ganguly
Yuvraj congratulates his captain on a job well done
Before his 107 not out against Kenya, he had made five scores under 24 in six World Cup matches.

He has agonised over his absence of form, but has been too proud to practise his way out of trouble.

Born into old Calcutta money, it is perhaps surprising that Ganguly has the common touch that he has with his players.

Equally, however, those that he does not respect are often dismissed with a smirk.

The Australians made no effort to hide their dislike for the man they felt had treated them with contempt during their last tour to India.

Chief among their gripes was that Steve Waugh was left waiting for the toss before Test matches.

That, though, is one of the reasons why Australia respect India more than any other team at this World Cup.

Friday's floodlit match against Kenya had "upset" written all over it.

Kenya celebrate
Martin Suji's dismissal of Tendulkar gave Kenya a sniff of victory
Kenya won the toss, elected to bat during the natural light and then nipped out three Indian batsman - including Sachin Tendulkar - while the white ball was still hard.

It was ironic that earlier in the day, the Indian board had received confirmation from the tournament organisers that there was no possibility of changing the Durban semi-final to a day match.

And here they were, apparently living out those fears that floodlit matches favoured the side bowling second.

Out strode Ganguly to take strike to Thomas Odoyo, who already had the wickets of Virender Sehwag and Mohammad Kaif under his belt.

With a flick of the wrists, Ganguly was on his way with boundaries either side of the wicket.

The spell had been broken.

A pulled six off Peter Ongondo took him to his 50, and a second six off Steve Tikolo carried him into the 90s.

And with push into the off side, he completed his 21st one-day international century.

With gritted teeth, he punched the air and a kissed his helmet - all in his own time, of course.

Mixed emotions for Ganguly
07 Mar 03 |  India
Ganguly guides India past Kenya
07 Mar 03 |  Photo Galleries
Have Your Say on India
04 Jan 03 |  Have Your Say
Have Your Say on Kenya
04 Jan 03 |  Have Your Say
Q&A: Sourav Ganguly's biographer
04 Feb 03 |  Have Your Say

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