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November 29, 2006
Sourav Ganguly, the former India captain who's now on the threshold of a Test recall, has said that thoughts of retirement never crossed his mind after being dropped from the team earlier this year.
Ganguly is expected to be included in the Test side that is to be named tomorrow, with several voices calling for more experience in a batting line-up struggling for form.
In an interview to Mumbai Mirror after Bengal's Ranji Trophy win against Punjab at Mohali earlier this week, Ganguly insisted that he had it in him to give his best at the highest level, and that it was too premature to give up.
"It's true, a lot of people said I should retire," he said. "They told me that I had achieved everything in any case, played for the team for 11 years, been captain for five - what else did I want to get out of the game? But I just felt I still had it in me to play at the highest level for longer. At some level, I felt my career will be incomplete if I simply give up now."
Ganguly has had a good start to the domestic season, with a hundred in a Duleep Trophy match against North Zone and a crucial 43 in a low-scorer at Mohali. He has also been among the wickets, picking up nine in three games. Often found wanting against the rising delivery, Ganguly said that he had consciously worked on keeping the ball down during his time off from the Indian side.
"When you are out of the team, you get a lot more time to analyse your batting, otherwise you're just going from one series to another and you don't get much of a chance. I've had time on my hands and I've worked on certain things. That's why I'm so happy with the way I'm playing right now.
"Yes, I do have a bit of a problem against short bowling, but you have to understand that a batsman at this level has a lot of strengths as well. If I actually had as big a problem against the short ball as people say, I could not have scored 15,000 international runs. I could say that Virender Sehwag has a problem with balls directed at his body. I could say Dravid has a problem with so-and-so delivery. The point is that you have to play to your strengths and cover your weaknesses."
Ganguly has a reasonable record against South Africa in their backyard, averaging over 43 in nine one-dayers and an average of over 32 in five Tests. He began India's last tour in 2001-02 with a blistering ton in a one-dayer at Johannesburg, followed by an equally aggressive 85 at East London sending out a statement that he was back among the runs following a lean patch. Recollecting the tour, five years on, Ganguly remained optimistic that his reflexes are still strong to unleash the strokes that fetched him those runs.
"I certainly think I can play knocks like the ones you're mentioning. Otherwise I would've given up the game a long time ago. I still feel I have it in me to play those innings again, and perhaps even better ones. Why else would I be fighting to get back into the Indian team?"
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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