Zimbabwe v India, 1st Test, Bulawayo, 3rd day September 15, 2005

'I was asked to step down as captain' - Ganguly

Cricinfo staff



Sourav Ganguly has spoken of his relief in notching up his 12th Test century, while revealing he was asked to step down as captain © AFP

Sourav Ganguly has revealed he was asked to step down as captain before this current Test against Zimbabwe, on a day in which he scored his first hundred for nearly two years. Ganguly, who made 101 - his 12th Test century - also reached a personal landmark of 5,000 Test runs when he passed 50. It was a timely century for him, after he went into the series with many in India demanding he be replaced by Rahul Dravid as captain.

"I can tell you that before this match I was asked to step down as captain," Ganguly told reporters. "So it was an extra determination that I found." He wouldn't, however, commit to revealing who called for him to step down.

"I have been disappointed over the last six months so the century today was a great relief," he added. "I accept that I have not batted well over that period. But this century has made my entire outlook change now. I am now hoping that it will make all the difference for me. It was not a great innings, but I was well satisfied with it under the circumstances."

India began the day leading Zimbabwe's by 46 runs, with plenty of wickets in hand. And by the lunch break they reached 396 for 6. VVS Laxman resumed on 125 and Ganguly on 23. But things did not go to plan. Laxman was run out for 140 in a mixup with his captain, Yuvraj Singh managed to score only 12 and Dinesh Karthik only one.

"Yes, [Zimbabwe are] not the best side of the world, but it has meant a lot to me," he said. "I was happy for myself, as I had a bad time with the bat in both forms of the game. Lost [out] on a few centuries in the series against Pakistan.

"Playing consistently at this level is important. I am happy that I fought it out," he added.

When asked about his detractors crying for his head, he said: "it has been fair. I struggled against Pakistan and the last year has been a disappointing one for me. It is not for me to prove anything, because the criticism has been fair. I have got the ability to play for the team."

Yesterday, Laxman hit out at his critics while also mentioning the negative vibes in the team. Responding to this, Ganguly said: "I have always believed in his ability and I told him yesterday that he doesn't have to prove himself to anyone. As far as I am concerned, I have always been a big supporter of Laxman and will always be.

"But then there are people other than me who are deciding about Indian cricket. As far as I am concerned, Laxman is one of the best players India has produced."