Ganguly, the bowler, has his say
West Zone 61for 5 (Ganguly 3-20) trail East Zone 150 (A Das 56, Bahutule 3-29, M Patel 3-41) by 89 runs
Sourav Ganguly overcame a dismal day with the bat by taking three crucial wickets to leave West Zone stuttering at 61 for 5 at stumps after East Zone were bowled out for just 150 on day one at Ahmedabad. West trail by 89 runs, and with their main batsmen back in the pavilion, they face an uphill task on day two.
Earlier, Ganguly chose to bat and East struggled from the word go. Arindam Das (56) apart, it was a virtual no-show from East's batting line-up, with names like Ganguly, Shiv Sunder Das, Deep Dasgupta, and Rohan Gavaskar all coming a cropper on a day in which double strikes were the name of the game. A twin blow from Rakesh Patel left East stuttering at 14 for 2, and just when it seemed like the batsmen were setting themselves up for something good, Zaheer Khan returned to have Dasgupta caught at the wicket and bowled Ganguly for a duck.
A further twin strike in successive deliveries from another Patel, 22-year-old Munaf, saw Gavaskar and Laxmi Ratan Shukla out with the score on 123. Gavaskar (29) had added 68 with Das, the highest stand for East. Building on their team-mates' preference to follow each other back to the pavilion, Das and Shahbaz Nadeem then proceeded to get out with the score on 135. Sairaj Bahutule, the West's captain, wrapped up the tail to end with figures of 3 for 27 from nine overs.
When West began their reply, it was Ganguly - pressured to make an impact after failing with the bat - who made early inroads. Bowling first change, he accounted for Akash Christian and Dheeraj Jadhav, the openers, and Rakesh Patel, the nightwatchman, in a 11-over spell that yielded just 20 runs. Incidentally, he dismissed both openers in the same manner in which West had run through his side - with a double-strike (32 for 1, 33 for 2). Strike bowlers Ranadeb Bose and Shib Paul, no doubt bolstered by their captain's success with the ball, each took a wicket to leave West stuttering at the close of play.
The lingering image of the day, however, will be of Ganguly being bowled by Zaheer for a duck. Much has been said, written, and debated about the former Indian captain's batting slump and his seeming larger-than-life persona that adversely affected his leadership abilities. On a day in which his former India team-mates secured a convincing 6-1 series win over Sri Lanka, Ganguly's dismissal for 0 may seal his fate where returning to the national side is concerned. Ganguly, who earlier said that winning the Duleep Trophy final would be `very special' for East, will have to do something special with the bat to see that happen.