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Last Updated:  Friday, 21 March, 2003, 09:00 GMT
Ganguly's debt of gratitude
Sourav Ganguly
Ganguly has singled out Ashish Nehra for praise
Sourav Ganguly has thanked his players for keeping him in his job as India captain.

Ganguly faced fierce criticism following a poor start to the World Cup but has seen his side bounce back with eight straight wins.

Speaking before the semi-final win over Kenya, he told the Hindustan Times: "As I read the headlines surrounding Shaun Pollock's departure as South African captain, I find myself silently thanking my team for the way they have supported me during this World Cup.

"I have always taken the view that a captain is only as good as the players around him."

Angry demonstrations back home followed India's heavy defeat by Australia at the start of the tournament.

An effigy of Ganguly was burnt in Calcutta and Mohammed Kaif's house was vandalised in Allahabad.

But superb batting by Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar, plus inspired pace bowling by Zaheer Khan, Javagal Srinath and Ashish Nehra, have steered the Indian into the final.

"I have been blessed with the strongest hand of pace bowlers India has ever fielded," said Ganguly.

"Shaun, on the other hand, ended up paying for the failures of his supporting seamers.

"Allan Donald and Jacques Kallis are big names, but they showed none of the penetration we've seen from Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan."

Ganguly singled out Nehra for praise, saying: "He damaged his ankle in our opening game and will need an operation after the tournament.

"But he has the biggest heart of any of our fast bowlers."

India go into Sunday's final bidding to gain revenge for their nine-wicket defeat by the world champions in the early group stages.

But Ganguly insisted he was confident the psychological effect of that loss would not be felt.

"I don't see any reason why we are not tough enough to stand up to them," he said. "We've beaten them before - we're one of the few sides who have beaten them."

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