India news December 3, 2011

'Can't afford a 50% fit Zaheer in Australia' - Ganguly

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Sourav Ganguly, the former India captain, has said Zaheer Khan, India's spearhead, must continue to work on his fitness before the start of the Test series in Australia. Zaheer was out of cricket between August and November due to injury, and was conditionally selected for the Australia series that begins with the Boxing Day Test.

"I feel that Zaheer is still not 100% fit and we can't afford to have a 50% fit Zaheer Khan in Australia," Ganguly said during an event in Delhi. "For India, Zaheer still needs to play a lot more matches and for that he needs to be fully fit. One Ranji Trophy game is not enough.

"There are still [some] days left [before the Tests] and I believe he will play another Ranji game as well as two practice matches in Australia. The BCCI has planned his schedule well, unlike ten years ago when I had to appear for a fitness test only ten days prior to an important tour."

Zaheer had injured his right hamstring on the first day of the England-India Test series this summer, before a recurring ankle injury re-surfaced later during the tour, forcing Zaheer out of the series. He underwent ankle surgery and made a return to competitive cricket on November 29, when he played a Ranji Trophy match for Mumbai in Cuttack. He bowled 22 overs in the match, over two innings, and took four wickets.

Ganguly also said R Ashwin, the offspinner who took 22 wickets in his debut Test series, against West Indies, will face a much tougher challenge in Australia. "Ashwin is a gifted cricketer. But bowling in India with SG balls against an inconsistent West Indies batting line-up is completely different from bowling with Kookaburra balls. Also the quality of batsmanship will certainly be higher [in Australia]."

India faced another injury setback with medium-pacer Praveen Kumar being ruled out of the Tests in Australia earlier this week because of a fractured rib. His replacement will be named on December 5, and Ganguly said the decision should be carefully weighed.

"We should have a good young pacer whoever it is. As far as Irfan [Pathan] is concerned, I have heard that he is bowling well [in the Ranji Trophy] but my question would be whether he is good enough to get into the team on his bowling alone.

"Ashish [Nehra] is also getting wickets which is a good sign. I don't think that not being centrally contracted [Nehra was not in the BCCI's list of centrally contracted players released in October] is an issue. He is only 32 and can still play for India for some time."

Ganguly scored his first first-class century in two years this week, for Bengal against Haryana in the Ranji Trophy. The four-day match, though, ended in a draw. With draws in the tournament not being uncommon, Ganguly said its structure could do with a review. "I know there are times when the second innings becomes immaterial. Certainly we need to look at the possibility of whether we can make it a five-day affair."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY itsthewayuplay on | December 4, 2011, 17:49 GMT

    @passionate_cricket_follower I don't have any information on that and it's irrelevant as it's in the past. What about question on the politics in what he said on the challenge facing Ashwin in Aus?

  • POSTED BY passionate_cricket_follower on | December 4, 2011, 13:58 GMT

    @ itsthewayuplay: he downplayed regionalism all right, but trust me he was one of the most political captains. he had a lobby of younger players to back him when he was "out of form" for eternity!

  • POSTED BY Johnny_129 on | December 4, 2011, 13:43 GMT

    Agree with Ganguly's view's regarding a fully fit Zak. PK's injury could be a blessing in disguise because Irfan Pathan seems to have found decent form and is fast rising up - he may well be at peak when the Oz tour arrives. Irfan Pathan certainly has the skill, experience and proven record - I can't think of any other pace bowler who should get the vacant spot ahead of Irfan Pathan.

  • POSTED BY Empty-Sequence on | December 4, 2011, 12:59 GMT

    To all the guys who are backing for irfan for the tour of australia......his av. speed against haryana and delhi was 119 k/h.... He even failed to touch 130km. How can u guys expect him leave an impact against the likes of pointin, hussey & clarke. He will become one more laughing stock in front of the world.

  • POSTED BY mickar on | December 4, 2011, 12:17 GMT

    Ganguly is right, we need a 100% fit Zak, even if he misses the first one or two test. He and the physio should make the decision. As far as the replacement for praveen is concerned, the best two in contention are irfan and nehra(form and experience). Hope selectors pick irfan, we badly need a pace bowling allrounder in australia. Our spin bowling allrounders are not of much use (ie, their bowling ) downunder.

  • POSTED BY satish619chandar on | December 4, 2011, 12:14 GMT

    Its true but now we know that Zaheer MIGHT be available and are better prepared whereas in England, we did believe he IS available and banked on him.. A half fit Zak is good to be persisted with as he can be fully fit anytime.. Des Dada remember the last Australian tour where we picked a semifit Viru who staged a come back in third test and saved the match with a rare responsible innings?

  • POSTED BY Aussasinator on | December 4, 2011, 10:58 GMT

    Do people agree with me if I say that I sense a certain bitterness in Saurav Ganguly even now, and he can't seem to get over his being left out of India's scheme of things? His comments have never been fully in favour of india and he seems to love giving ideas to opposition teams, especially Australia. Has anybody else noticed this?

  • POSTED BY AbhiNaik on | December 4, 2011, 10:23 GMT

    Typical Ganguly. A player who was never himself 100% fit but has the audacity to comment on Zaheer. Btw a 50% fit Zaheer will run faster than Ganguly did in his prime.

  • POSTED BY AbhiNaik on | December 4, 2011, 10:18 GMT

    Typical Ganguly. A player who was never himself 100% fit but has the audacity to comment on Zaheer. Btw a 50% fit Zaheer will run faster than Ganguly did in his prime. Hope Dhoni breaks his record of most test victories asap.

  • POSTED BY NRI- on | December 4, 2011, 4:29 GMT

    Nathan L:yon is getting wickets in Australia so why not Ashwin?

  • POSTED BY itsthewayuplay on | December 4, 2011, 17:49 GMT

    @passionate_cricket_follower I don't have any information on that and it's irrelevant as it's in the past. What about question on the politics in what he said on the challenge facing Ashwin in Aus?

  • POSTED BY passionate_cricket_follower on | December 4, 2011, 13:58 GMT

    @ itsthewayuplay: he downplayed regionalism all right, but trust me he was one of the most political captains. he had a lobby of younger players to back him when he was "out of form" for eternity!

  • POSTED BY Johnny_129 on | December 4, 2011, 13:43 GMT

    Agree with Ganguly's view's regarding a fully fit Zak. PK's injury could be a blessing in disguise because Irfan Pathan seems to have found decent form and is fast rising up - he may well be at peak when the Oz tour arrives. Irfan Pathan certainly has the skill, experience and proven record - I can't think of any other pace bowler who should get the vacant spot ahead of Irfan Pathan.

  • POSTED BY Empty-Sequence on | December 4, 2011, 12:59 GMT

    To all the guys who are backing for irfan for the tour of australia......his av. speed against haryana and delhi was 119 k/h.... He even failed to touch 130km. How can u guys expect him leave an impact against the likes of pointin, hussey & clarke. He will become one more laughing stock in front of the world.

  • POSTED BY mickar on | December 4, 2011, 12:17 GMT

    Ganguly is right, we need a 100% fit Zak, even if he misses the first one or two test. He and the physio should make the decision. As far as the replacement for praveen is concerned, the best two in contention are irfan and nehra(form and experience). Hope selectors pick irfan, we badly need a pace bowling allrounder in australia. Our spin bowling allrounders are not of much use (ie, their bowling ) downunder.

  • POSTED BY satish619chandar on | December 4, 2011, 12:14 GMT

    Its true but now we know that Zaheer MIGHT be available and are better prepared whereas in England, we did believe he IS available and banked on him.. A half fit Zak is good to be persisted with as he can be fully fit anytime.. Des Dada remember the last Australian tour where we picked a semifit Viru who staged a come back in third test and saved the match with a rare responsible innings?

  • POSTED BY Aussasinator on | December 4, 2011, 10:58 GMT

    Do people agree with me if I say that I sense a certain bitterness in Saurav Ganguly even now, and he can't seem to get over his being left out of India's scheme of things? His comments have never been fully in favour of india and he seems to love giving ideas to opposition teams, especially Australia. Has anybody else noticed this?

  • POSTED BY AbhiNaik on | December 4, 2011, 10:23 GMT

    Typical Ganguly. A player who was never himself 100% fit but has the audacity to comment on Zaheer. Btw a 50% fit Zaheer will run faster than Ganguly did in his prime.

  • POSTED BY AbhiNaik on | December 4, 2011, 10:18 GMT

    Typical Ganguly. A player who was never himself 100% fit but has the audacity to comment on Zaheer. Btw a 50% fit Zaheer will run faster than Ganguly did in his prime. Hope Dhoni breaks his record of most test victories asap.

  • POSTED BY NRI- on | December 4, 2011, 4:29 GMT

    Nathan L:yon is getting wickets in Australia so why not Ashwin?

  • POSTED BY arulraas on | December 4, 2011, 4:04 GMT

    Please concentrate on what someone says rather than who says it. There is no politics in Ganguly's words. Ganguly was the only Indian commentator batting for India in England and in fact analysed rather than criticized. If people could read Ganguly's interview in 2007 "http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/327091.html", where he foresees the problems with Indian cricket, his comments would make sense. Ganguly is the equivalent of Geoffrey Boycott in India, always honest but ever disliked because of it. By the way, none of his comments were personal and it was all about cricket but nevertheless comments about Ganguly is always personal and nothing about cricket!

  • POSTED BY on | December 4, 2011, 2:08 GMT

    Great insight and sound judgement by one of the great captains. His expertise needs to be utilized by BCCI in some capacity.

  • POSTED BY Vilander on | December 3, 2011, 22:35 GMT

    Saurav you are ready to be a cricket administrator, very insightful. Spoken in a way only you and few other 'big 5' fellas can.

  • POSTED BY on | December 3, 2011, 21:09 GMT

    Ashwin needs to improve his fitness and athleticism....

  • POSTED BY zico123 on | December 3, 2011, 20:50 GMT

    Ashwin had a rough day during Ind vs WI 2nd ODI, may be he is tiring after 3 test matches, it is nice to give him break and try out Rahul Sharma for couple of games, as otherwise if Ashwin gets hit around again, his confidence would go down ahead of important test series

  • POSTED BY zico123 on | December 3, 2011, 20:47 GMT

    Irfan Pathan is bowling well, has already taken 3 five fors and is the highest wicket taker in the ongoing Ranji trouphy series, he should be picked as replacement for Praveen Kumar, if he finds his old form, India's allrounder problem in ODIs and Test matches will be resolved.

  • POSTED BY McGorium on | December 3, 2011, 19:57 GMT

    @ Kavindeven: Agree on the Bajji comment. Bajji is quite useless with the Kookaburra ball. And as Sanjay Manjrekar mentioned, Ashwin gets people out in the classical off-spinner fashion, as opposed to Bajji, who relied on bat-pad dismissals. The latter works in India with inconsistent bounce (Kumble was a champ at this), but not in Aus. Ashwin is worth a try, for sure. Ganguly is still backing his favourite bowler (Bajji) although he has done nothing to deserve it recently, and paying backhanded compliments to Ashwin!

  • POSTED BY McGorium on | December 3, 2011, 19:52 GMT

    @ Kavindeven: You are mistaken. He occasionally touches 135kph, but is typically around the 130kph mark. It's not bad, but is asking for a hammering on flat Aussie pitches once the ball stops swinging. I would totally back him in England, as also Pravin Kumar, but neither IMHO is particularly suited to aussie conditions. Venky Prasad had line and length, but I can't remember him making a difference in Aus. Other than brisbane (we aren't playing there), and Perth, aussie pitches don't help swing bowlers all that much. You need pace, bounce and later, reverse swing to make a difference. It is not clear that Vinay has any of these attributes. Aaron is a kid -- barely 21 yrs of age -- and is being picked on potential. Unless Zak, Ishant or Yadav get injured, Aaron is unlikely to play. I sometimes wonder if Srisanth should have been picked, just for the occasional magic ball that he bowls (Kallis at Durban, for example), but I guess his lack of control is too much of a price to pay.

  • POSTED BY on | December 3, 2011, 18:56 GMT

    India should also consider taking Jadeja. He is also classical left arm like Ojha and not too far behind Ojha. Even if he doesn't make it into the 11, he can be an ideal 12th man.

  • POSTED BY Shanmughan on | December 3, 2011, 18:27 GMT

    Woww...Sourav Ganguly talking about fitness..!! Had fitness ever been a norm for selection in Indian cricket,sourav would never have found a place in Bengal team let alone Indian team...So please stop talking about that..And he is wooing for Nehra,who himself had told earlier that he wasn't fit enough for 5 day cricket..Nehra for a 4-Test series down under,sorry Sourav I just understand your way of thinking,An 80% fit Zaheer would be better than 100 Nehras..!!

  • POSTED BY itsthewayuplay on | December 3, 2011, 17:58 GMT

    @indyarox It was Ganguly when he became captain who put an end to all regionalism in selection and did chose players based on performance rather than state. Ganguly has said it like it is - Aus conditons will be very different to India and so will Aus as opponents. Where is the politics in what he has said about the challenge Ashwin faces in Aus?

  • POSTED BY Romenevans on | December 3, 2011, 16:58 GMT

    People call Vinay kumar a slow bowler. Guys wake up...watch the speed guns when he bowls..he was consistently bowling 135K/s mark which is good enough if not express and with his swing he can be a great replacement for Praveen Kumar. And don't even compare him with Varun Aaron...Varun is an over confident below par bowler...who act like a express fast bowler, but barely touches 141-142/Kph. I think this should be the pace attack if zaheer will be fit. >> Zaheer, Ishant, Yadav, Aswin Kohli/Veeru Part timers if needed. If Zaheer isn't fit then Vinay should be picked because of his consistent line and length and Aussies arnt good against Out Swingers, which he bowls pretty well.

  • POSTED BY Romenevans on | December 3, 2011, 16:43 GMT

    Nehra still can play....Irfan Still Can Play.....RP Singh can get back to the team in England in between enjoying holiday in Miami? And top of that ganguly is also ready to come back in the team if they need him...what a joke. I can't understand this guy saying things about Ashwin. Of course it will be difficult but at least let's see him first there then react. (I'm damn sure ashwin will do well, at least way way better than Ganguly's buddy Bhajji)

  • POSTED BY Nampally on | December 3, 2011, 15:59 GMT

    Apart from not making any constructive comments about ZAK or his replacement if he is only 50% fit, Gangully has also sadly down graded Ashwin.I wish to remind Ganguly that his choice - Bhaiji - would have done far worse than Ashwin will ever do. I think the Selectors have done well in choosing a squad which gelled together as a team against WI and reinforced it with 3 other players. I am sure Ashwin will do his best in Australia. His high action gives him the bounce on the Aussie wickets and if he bowls to his potential, he will take wickets irrespective of what Ganguly thinks. India might go with 3 seamers (ZAK, Ishant,Yadev) + i spinner(Ashwin) in Australia. #7 spot is either for a batsman or an all rounder. I think Irfan Pathan as kumar's replacement would fit in this spot & will provide Dhoni a choice for final decision. India should also make it a 18 man squad to compensate for any injuries. The last spot could be a fast bowler( Nechim/Nehra) or an all rounder(Raina or Jadeja).

  • POSTED BY Nampally on | December 3, 2011, 15:10 GMT

    I agree with Gangully in not choosing ZAK if he is not 100% fit. India paid severe penalty when they chose Sehwag under similar ruling for UK. In this case ZAK is at least playing a Ranji match to test his fitness level. It is not exactly proving that he is 100% fit but it merely showed that he is capable of bowling 12 overs/day. He was not amongst 5 for --, or anything like that even against lowly Orissa. It shows that he is still well below his peak form. Ganguly does not suggest an alternate pace bowler to ZAK, if he is considered unfit -just make an open ended comment, which is not constructive. At the same time Ganguly was not too enthusiastic about Irfan pathan although he took 5 for --, twice and now he took 7 for ---!. So Irfan is both fit & in form.But Gangully does not think he is good enough batsmen. At the same time he thinks Nehra is bowling well based on just one match 5 for --. Nehra was never a batsman.Can he get in on this bowling? Such statements are pointless.

  • POSTED BY on | December 3, 2011, 14:46 GMT

    @rahulcricket007. Last time, Sehwag scored 153 in Adelaide, because he started playing a little bit more seriously, after the one-year shock treatment. This time he is going there in his usual carefree/careless style, probably further boosted by the teams ODI performance against the emerging West Indies team (achieved by the team despite his equally carefree/careless captaincy). I would be delighted, if my fears prove wrong. I can't think of a better weapon for Indian team than a Sehwag in full flow!

  • POSTED BY on | December 3, 2011, 14:00 GMT

    Get ready for some bowling musical chairs. Delay sending Zak, till he gets fully fit. Send Nehra, who seems fit now, in Zak's place. Half way through the Aussie series, if and when Nehra becomes 'unfit', hopefully Zak would be fit and he can go there and send his old pal Nehra back for treatment and re-re-rehabilitation. As of now, one feels confident only about young Umesh Yadav; no one else! Ishant also has a suspect ankle. So, we can open the bowling on Boxing day with one Yadav and half an Ishant! Great!! Wish, Aaron was not such a disappointment -- line? length? temperament? (of course, a little bit of over confidence too). Hope, he shows significant improvement by the time we finish the current ODI series. Bowling along with Yadav will, hopefully, instill the competitive spirit and Aaron may improve. By the way, we used to hear from Eric, the bowling coach during Kirstian's days. Where are you, Eric? What do you do? What do you say abount the current bowling dilemma!

  • POSTED BY on | December 3, 2011, 13:49 GMT

    India, as a team, will have to perform. Its not always going to be batsmen or bowlers only...it has to be a team effort...something that was missing in England....I hope India does well to understand this.......anyway, I am interested in Sachin's performance in the series( Not just 100th 100:-)), and VVS. Ashwin is good , bit will take him next australia tour to deliver....this tour should just be a learning curve for him..nothing more...

  • POSTED BY on | December 3, 2011, 13:33 GMT

    Nehra's record in test matches is not good ....Irfan was the MoM in last tour perth win. However, he has been out of international cricket for very long. If he is under consideration, he should be played in the ODIs against WI.... If he still shows the old promise with the bat, he should be picked.... We have 3 hit the deck kind of bowlers in Umesh, Ishant & Varun. So, the remaining bowlers in squad should be ones who utilize swing like Zaheer, Irfan, Sreeshant ....

  • POSTED BY pras167 on | December 3, 2011, 13:18 GMT

    You look good Gangs but while you keep quiet. You were nor such a big talented player and fit player to either comment on Ash or Zak. Bhajji exit was long time pending as was yours in your playing days

  • POSTED BY tanstell87 on | December 3, 2011, 13:06 GMT

    Dada is right....Zaheer has bad luck of breaking down in Australia in 2003-4 & 2007-8 series when he broke down both times during 1st test...if Zak is unfit, Ishant/Umesh & Varun should play first test...

  • POSTED BY SASANK360 on | December 3, 2011, 12:49 GMT

    @soumyas Performance for in the T20 matches differ from performing at test level on supportive wickets in Aus.If it is a left-armer then it should be Irfan Pathan,who adds batting depth, or Ashish Nehra,who has experince at international level.

  • POSTED BY on | December 3, 2011, 12:28 GMT

    a fit zaheer bowling well, will make the indians job a lot more easier, his presence makes a difference to other fast bowlers as well.

  • POSTED BY indyarox on | December 3, 2011, 12:13 GMT

    So Harbhajan's Guru has started downsizing Ashwin already. Stop playing politics atleast now that you are retired Mr. Ganguly.

  • POSTED BY soumyas on | December 3, 2011, 12:04 GMT

    i think Aravind can be groomed in absence of zaheer...he is left arm has similar actions to zaheer, and did job for RCB...

  • POSTED BY on | December 3, 2011, 11:46 GMT

    as far as replacement is considered it doesnt matter who ever comes in we need to play zaheer , ishant and umesh yadav would be the trio to watch out for.we cant rely on swing more becoz all the above 3 bowlers can swing the ball.we need a bowler who banks on bounce like ishant to trouble the aussies so mithun or sreesanth are apt choices.

    though i like the duo of ashwin and ojha i some how feel we r gonna miss bhajji's experiencecfor sure and it might prove costly for us i hope ashwin shd be the next kumble in making

  • POSTED BY spence1324 on | December 3, 2011, 11:42 GMT

    This is why no one takes india seriously because there pre match and pre series preparation is an absolute joke!

  • POSTED BY rahulcricket007 on | December 3, 2011, 11:40 GMT

    IRFAN SHOULD BE SELECTED FOR AUSTRALAIA TOUR . IF WE REMEMBER THAT IN THE PERTH TEST IRFAN MAKES HIS RETURN IN IMPRESSIVE MANNER , ALSO SEHWAG WHO WASN'T IN THE SIDE FOR 1 YEAR MAKE 153 IN THE NEXT TEST AT ADELAIDE .IF IRFAN IS BOWLING WELL HE SHOULD BE SELSCTED .

  • POSTED BY dsig3 on | December 3, 2011, 11:34 GMT

    Keep eating pies Zaheer, keep eating the pies mate.

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | December 3, 2011, 11:30 GMT

    india's bowling will be a hell of a gamble, it could come off and they could have a good time or they could be absolutely feasted on and not do the job. i think the risk far out weighs the reward

  • POSTED BY on | December 3, 2011, 11:18 GMT

    Irfan is young too... so that should work in his favour instead of Nehra!

  • POSTED BY on | December 3, 2011, 11:18 GMT

    Get in Irfan.. Has a good record in India!!!

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  • POSTED BY on | December 3, 2011, 11:18 GMT

    Get in Irfan.. Has a good record in India!!!

  • POSTED BY on | December 3, 2011, 11:18 GMT

    Irfan is young too... so that should work in his favour instead of Nehra!

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | December 3, 2011, 11:30 GMT

    india's bowling will be a hell of a gamble, it could come off and they could have a good time or they could be absolutely feasted on and not do the job. i think the risk far out weighs the reward

  • POSTED BY dsig3 on | December 3, 2011, 11:34 GMT

    Keep eating pies Zaheer, keep eating the pies mate.

  • POSTED BY rahulcricket007 on | December 3, 2011, 11:40 GMT

    IRFAN SHOULD BE SELECTED FOR AUSTRALAIA TOUR . IF WE REMEMBER THAT IN THE PERTH TEST IRFAN MAKES HIS RETURN IN IMPRESSIVE MANNER , ALSO SEHWAG WHO WASN'T IN THE SIDE FOR 1 YEAR MAKE 153 IN THE NEXT TEST AT ADELAIDE .IF IRFAN IS BOWLING WELL HE SHOULD BE SELSCTED .

  • POSTED BY spence1324 on | December 3, 2011, 11:42 GMT

    This is why no one takes india seriously because there pre match and pre series preparation is an absolute joke!

  • POSTED BY on | December 3, 2011, 11:46 GMT

    as far as replacement is considered it doesnt matter who ever comes in we need to play zaheer , ishant and umesh yadav would be the trio to watch out for.we cant rely on swing more becoz all the above 3 bowlers can swing the ball.we need a bowler who banks on bounce like ishant to trouble the aussies so mithun or sreesanth are apt choices.

    though i like the duo of ashwin and ojha i some how feel we r gonna miss bhajji's experiencecfor sure and it might prove costly for us i hope ashwin shd be the next kumble in making

  • POSTED BY soumyas on | December 3, 2011, 12:04 GMT

    i think Aravind can be groomed in absence of zaheer...he is left arm has similar actions to zaheer, and did job for RCB...

  • POSTED BY indyarox on | December 3, 2011, 12:13 GMT

    So Harbhajan's Guru has started downsizing Ashwin already. Stop playing politics atleast now that you are retired Mr. Ganguly.

  • POSTED BY on | December 3, 2011, 12:28 GMT

    a fit zaheer bowling well, will make the indians job a lot more easier, his presence makes a difference to other fast bowlers as well.