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Anand Vasu in Rawalpindi
April 16, 2004
Sourav Ganguly basked in the limelight of India's first series win in Pakistan. Beating Pakistan has long been the Holy Grail of Indian cricket, and this hasn't changed. "In that regard nothing has changed," he said. "We play very competitive cricket on the field, and to me this is bigger than the Ashes. The charm of beating Pakistan, that too in Pakistan, is huge. But what happens on the field should not come between the two countries. After all, this is just a game, which has attracted tremendous attention and that's how it should be."
Ganguly explained that this win was the culmination of a process that began more than two years ago. "We have played well overseas for quite some time. From the tour of the West Indies in 2002, to Australia, with the World Cup in the middle, we've been winning abroad," he said. "We have evolved over a period of time and the results are showing now. No team can win or lose because of one man. It doesn't happen like that in cricket. Everyone did well, from Sehwag and Sachin in Multan, to Dravid, Yuvraj, Parthiv and the bowlers. It was a team effort. This victory is dedicated to the team."
On playing against Pakistan, Ganguly said, "Playing against Pakistan is always tough. They are a quality side and their fast bowling is usually excellent. It makes winning in Pakistan very, very special." With India's trend of winning a Test overseas and yet failing to seal the series finally ending, Ganguly heaved a sigh of relief. "We have come very close to winning an away series in the last two years but had not managed that, and we have now learned from that experience. I think what made the difference in the end was the way we bowled on the first morning of this Test. When we put them in and bowled them out for a little more than 200 we took the game away from them. In the past we hadn't managed to bowl sides out cheaply in deciding matches and that was the difference here."
Ganguly also spoke up in defense of this Pakistan team. "It always happens when the team loses that people pick holes, and call for massive changes. It's a trend that is particularly unique to the subcontinent. This Pakistan side is a young one with plenty of inexperienced cricketers in it, especially with the retirement of people like Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram and Saeed Anwar. This is a good team, give them time, they will do well."
Finally, with the hard work done and the fruits of labour left to savour, Ganguly was all praise for the way the whole tour had gone. "It has been a fantastic tour for us. We have enjoyed being in Pakistan and it is great to finish in Islamabad, which to me is the best city in Pakistan. We enjoyed the tour even more because we played good cricket and won both the one-dayers and the Tests. Pakistan is definitely a very secure country, and we never had a problem during our stay here."
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