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January 2, 2006
Sacked as captain and dropped from the one-day side after a spat with Greg Chappell, the coach, his was a controversial selection for the upcoming tour of Pakistan. He said he was ready for the challenge despite being written off by former players both in India and Pakistan. "It is their opinion," he said. "I've nothing to do with what they think or believe. I know that I've to score runs. If I can do so, that will be the best for me. And I don't want to be distracted at this moment. I just want to avoid controversies. The bottomline is, I have to make runs, lots of runs."
Ganguly was brought back for the first two Tests against Sri Lanka before being dumped again for the third Test, a move that created a public outcry across India. When Ganguly was picked in the 16-man squad for the Pakistan tour, local media speculated that Sharad Pawar, the BCCI president, had forced the selectors to include him in a bid to cool tempers.
Ganguly, India's most successful Test captain with 21 wins, led India to victory in both the Test and one-day series on the last tour of Pakistan in March-April 2004. Pakistan, which toured India earlier this year, drew the Test series 1-1 and won the one-dayers 4-2. The selectors said Ganguly, who has scored 5,150 runs in 86 Tests, was picked for the Pakistan tour because of his experience.
He said India had a good chance to succeed again on Pakistani soil. "Why not? If we are to beat them, we have to bat well first. That's the basic thing. And there's no reason why we can't do that," he said. Ganguly, who made his Test debut in 1996, said his new year resolution was to 'toil hard and come out successful'. "In 1996, it was tough to break into the team. Now it's tougher. But I am ready to accept it. That's the challenge of 2006," he said.
Ganguly and three other players, Virender Sehwag, Anil Kumble and Parthiv Patel, have delayed their departure for Pakistan after being asked by the selectors to play their respective Ranji Trophy games starting Tuesday. The rest of the squad, led by Rahul Dravid, is scheduled to leave on Thursday for Lahore where they will play a three-day practice match from Saturday.
India will play three Tests and five one-day internationals in Pakistan.