India in Pakistan, 2005-06 December 24, 2005

Ganguly 'happy', City of Joy celebrates


Sourav Ganguly: Happy to be back © Getty Images
Reacting to the news of his inclusion in the Indian squad for the Pakistan tour, Sourav Ganguly said he was happy to have made a comeback and hoped that the side would do well against their traditional arch-rivals.

"I am very happy to be back in the side just like any other player in a similar situation," Ganguly told newspersons at his residence in Kolkata soon after being picked in the team.

He said he was yet to hear officially about his inclusion and received the "good news" from television. Asked whether he was going to open the innings, Ganguly said, "I haven't heard anything of the sort. All I can say at this moment is that I am very happy". Recalling that India had won both the Test and one-day series during their last visit to Pakistan, he said "I hope we will all play well". Ganguly refused to draw any comparison between now and his earlier return to the Test team in 1996.

Jagmohan Dalmiya, the former BCCI president, today welcomed Ganguly's inclusion into the Indian Test squad for the tour of Pakistan while stating that undue pressure should not be put on Ganguly. "In the first place, Sourav should not have been dropped from the Ahmedabad Test despite playing reasonably well in Delhi. It is good that better sense has prevailed and selectors realised their mistake and have corrected it," Dalmiya said.

"Sourav has a lot of cricket left in him. I am confident he will be given his due chance and hope that undue pressure will not be put on him," said Dalmiya who is the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB). He also said the CAB was delighted that Ganguly was back in the Indian team.

Meanwhile his adversary , Sharad Pawar, the BCCI president, also threw his weight behind Ganguly, saying the former captain deserved a place in the squad and that reports questioning his conduct were not true.

Jagmohan Dalmiya feels 'better sense has prevailed' while Sharad Pawar asserts Sourav Ganguly is a perfect team-man and is the right choice © Getty Images

"It looks like that he is definitely the proper person who should be included [in the team]," Pawar told reporters minutes after the Test squad for the tour of Pakistan was named.

"What was appearing in the papers that he was not cooperating and his relationship with his colleagues was not good, I myself went to his senior colleagues, there is not a single complaint against him. And whatever reports appeared in the media is unfair on any player and especially for the person who has got victories for India," he said.

Pawar had met Ganguly last week in Delhi where the player reportedly discussed his exclusion from the team.

Jubilant scenes broke out on the streets of Kolkata with delirious crowds streaming on to the streets to distribute sweets as news of Ganguly's return to the Indian team spread like wildfire today. Minutes after television channels beamed the news large crowds gathered at various pockets in the city to kickstart impromptu celebrations.

Having held up trains and set up road blocks for days in protest against Ganguly's exclusion from the Test side earlier this month, cricket buffs sprinkled 'gulal' on each other and shouted 'Sourav Ganguly zindabad'. A large number of people gathered outside Ganguly's home at Behala in the southern outskirts of the city, displaying his posters and beating drums, as Christmas seemed to have descended a day in advance in the City of Joy.

The local television channels, which had been beaming deabtes on Ganguly's chances of returning to the national side for the last few days, started showing scenes of mirth and conducting 'vox pops'. From Shyambazar in the north to Naktala in the south, from Beleghata in the east to Gardenreach in the west, the joy on the faces of Ganguly's fans was there for all to see.

Meanwhile, Parthiv Patel, who was recalled to the Indian Test squad for the tour of Pakistan as a back-up wicketkeeper to Mahendra Singh Dhoni, said he would make the most of the chance that has come his way.

'I am very happy. My patience and perseverance have finally paid off' - Parthiv Patel © Getty Images

"I am very happy. My patience and perseverance have finally paid off," Patel told PTI over the phone from Surat where he would he playing in the Ranji Trophy match against Bengal starting tomorrow.

"I have been working very hard since the last season, I have done well in the Challenger Series, Irani Trophy, Duleep Trophy and Ranji Trophy games," said Patel who was dropped from the Indian eleven after a string of poor shows behind the stumps, including on the tour of Australia. "I have got a chance and I will make the most of it," he added.

Patel said he had improved upon both his batting and wicket-keeping skills and would do well if he made it to the final eleven in Pakistan. "The most memorable moment during last year's Pakistan tour was when I made 69 runs as a stand-in opener in the Rawlpindi Test which India won," he said.