June 2, 2001

Ganguly looks to be among the runs this time around

As the Indian cricket team chases its first Test series win away from the sub continent in 15 years, captain Sourav Ganguly has a few points to prove on his personal showing.

Under fire from critics over his apparent discomfort against rising deliveries, Ganguly is keenly looking for some good scores that will not only silence his detractors but also inspire the team in their quest for a win.

Ganguly himself is confident saying there is nothing wrong with his technique and he was only passing through a bad phase in his career. He laughs off suggestions that he is vulnerable against rising balls on the off-stump or to balls that comes around his ribs.

"It is just not true," says Ganguly. "I wouldn't survive in international cricket if this was so."

Ganguly, who has scored 2817 runs from 41 Tests at an average of 44.02, has had a modest performance with the bat in the last two years. He scored 279 runs from six Tests averaging 31 in 2000 while this year he has just 106 runs from three Tests at an average of 17.67 to his credit.

He struggled badly in the home series against Australia repeatedly getting dismissed to outgoing rising deliveries. "It was just one failure against Australia. This was my first such in nearly five years. All top batsmen do have a lean run from time to time," he said.

He knows a failure here will seriously undermine his position as one of the most successful batsmen of recent times. He has a good record against the Zimbabweans scoring 205 runs from three matches at an average of 51.25.

Ganguly has been practicing hard in Zimbabwe, asking the bowlers to send down short-pitched deliveries on wickets that support both pace and bounce.

He had a not-so-successful first outing in the three-day game against Zimbabwe A in Mutare where he scored just 12 and 17 though he was unlucky to be adjudged leg before wicket in the second innings.

Ganguly gets another chance to regain his form in the tour match against CFX Academy which started on Saturday. This is the last match before the first Test starting in Bulawayo on June 7.

If he succeeds in Zimbabwe, Ganguly will not only prove a point, he is most likely to carry the good form to India's next two tours of Sri Lanka and South Africa. And this can only be good news for the stylish left-hander from Kolkata as also for the millions of his fans back home.