<
>

'It's good to come back to winning ways' - Ganguly

Sourav Ganguly expressed satisfaction with his team's performance at the post-match press conference, saying that it was an important match both for the team and himself personally and he was pleased with the result.
"We've had a tough four or five months and it's good to come back to our winning ways," he said. "At one stage yesterday I was worried the game would end in another draw, because the pitch didn't appear to be giving our spinners much assistance. But I become more confident after that one over that Anil Kumble bowled to Graeme Smith from around the wicket, just before tea [in which Kumble beat Smith repeatedly]. And today our Harbhajan and Kumble did the job for us."

On Kumble equalling Kapil Dev's Indian record of 434 Test wickets, Ganguly remarked: "It's an outstanding achievement. And he'll probably go on to take a lot more wickets. I've played international cricket with Anil for ten years, and known him since [our] U-15 days. His determination and his will to succeed have always been impressive."

Ganguly was in a relaxed mood after the win. One of the last questions concerned his two run-ins with the ICC in the last month [he was given a two-match suspension for India's slow over-rate in the ODI against Pakistan that was subsequently overturned on appeal, and then fined 30 per cent of his match fee after an incident with Jacques Kallis yesterday]. "I'll have to change my ways now," said Ganguly. "Otherwise I'll soon be playing Test matches for free."

Graeme Smith, Ganguly's opposing number, said that the South Africans had probably lost the match because they had not made enough runs in the first innings. "Our second-innings score was actually quite a good one. If we had made 400 then they wouldn't have got the lead they did, and that might have left them about 200 to chase, which would've been interesting."

Smith also bemoaned the absence of a front-line spinner, saying it was a serious problem that South Africa needed to resolve before they could hope to succeed on the subcontinent. Asked if he was disappointed with the series of losses this year, he said that it was indeed frustrating to keep losing. "But you've got to be honest with yourself and the team we've got. I think that right now we're at the same stage as Australia were in the early 1980s when Allan Border took charge of a team that lost often, but gradually built it up into a strong outfit."

Harbhajan Singh, the man of the match, and always an interesting and a relatively unguarded talker, made some intriguing observations in his characteristic style. Praising Kumble's achievement, he remarked, "Anil is 34 but he still competes as if he is only 20. It's a great feat." Harbhajan said that Eden Gardens was among his favourite grounds, as he'd taken a wickets each time he'd played a Test here. Unusually for a member of a tribe of bowlers who always feel themselves hard done by, Harbhajan even agreed that Shaun Pollock was actually not out: "I saw it on TV and it didn't hit the bat."

Harbhajan was finally asked if he felt that he sometimes got too pumped up on the field, and let his emotions get the better of him. "I wish I could be like Rahul Dravid - cool all the time," he said. "But everyone has his own way, and I like to be aggressive. Actually, it has to do with my age. I'm only 24 and I think I'm so pumped up because I'm young. If I was like Dravid, I might end up taking less wickets." At this Harbhajan paused and considered this last remark seriously. "Or maybe more."

Chandrahas Chowdhury is a staff writer on Wisden Asia Cricket magazine