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We gave a good fight: Ganguly
M R Mishra |
November 24, 2004 18:18 IST
Last Updated: November 24, 2004 19:13 IST
India "gained a lot" from the drawn cricket Test against South Africa and would now carry the confidence into the deciding second match in Kolkata, skipper Sourav Ganguly said in Kanpur on Wednesday.
"We played well in this match. When an opposition goes on to score 500 odd runs, to come back and score 466 is a good fight," Ganguly said after the first Test ended in a tame draw here at the Green Park Stadium.
"We batted well in the first innings and bowled well in the second, so we gained a lot from this match," the captain said.
Ganguly said his team had not underestimated the South Africans and always knew that they would be competitive.
"We always knew they would be competitive. They have some good players who are keen to make a mark at the international level. They played well in the first innings," he said.
Asked to compare this Test with the one in Mumbai against Australia, he said, "it was different. The Mumbai Test finished in two days, this match would have taken another two days to finish. It was a much better wicket here."
The stylish left hander praised Virender Sehwag, who top scored in the first innings with 164. "That's the way he bats, it is good for the team."
"It was a great innings, that's the way he plays. He had the opportunity to play the second new ball and he made it count. After scoring his century, he played more freely. He has the ability to hit the ball and did put the South Africans under pressure".
On his own form, he said it had been good this year. "I missed a few Tests because of injuries but my form has been good. I hope I can make a big score in Kolkata."
Unlike the track here, Ganguly said the Eden Gardens, where the second Test begins on Sunday, would definitely produce a result. "I hope we would end up on the right side of it."
Asked whether he was disappointed to have been given such a flat track for the match, Ganguly said, "I don't know. It's the curator's job to prepare the wicket and our job is to play. The curator had prepared such a track and we played on it."
Ganguly said India would have forced a result on a lifeless track had they won the toss and batted first.
"We lost a crucial toss, things could have been different if the batting had been reversed. We would have tried to score fast and put the South Africans under pressure.
"We lost some time because of the fog. If you lose time on such a flat track, it becomes very difficult to force a result. They also batted pretty slowly on the first two days," he said.
Ganguly did not agree with the suggestion that the South Africans had gone into the match with the mindset to draw the Test rather than force a result.
"I don't think it will be right to say that they were playing for a draw. They put up a big total and tried to put pressure on us. They probably thought that the track will break up on the third or fourth day but it did not happen.
"Our spinners also bowled well to reduce their scoring rate. There was no real help for them, but they did a good job," he said.
On whether the Indians would continue with the three-spinner policy for the next Test in Kolkata, Ganguly said, "it's only the second time we have done that in recent times. We did it in Mumbai against Australia and the result proved that it was correct.
"In the last few Tests we had played with two spinners and two seamers. On this track, we knew there would not be much assistance for the quicks, that is why we decided to go in with three spinners. In fact till the third day, I was the only seamer to have taken a wicket. Spin is our strength and we have to play to that".
Ganguly said his team will try to go to Kolkata, where the second match begins on Sunday, with a positive mindset.
"I will tell the boys to forget this match and try and win the Kolkata Test. There was nothing for the bowlers here. But the conditions will be different in Kolkata and I hope we can win there."
Asked how hopeful he was of playing the Kolkata match in view of the ICC's suspension, Ganguly said "I can't say anything on that. It will become clear in the next couple of days."
Asked whether the team management would consider bringing back paceman Irfan Pathan for the Kolkata Test, he said, "Zaheer has bowled very well in Test matches. Irfan is coming back from injury and that is one reason why we opted for Zaheer."
South African skipper Graeme Smith was also pleased with the "solid performance" from his team.
"We have some young guys who put up a real good fight in this match. They really played some good cricket," he said.
Praising man-of-the-match Andrew Hall, who made 163 and also took three wickets, Smith said, "it is a risk we took by asking Hall to open the innings but it paid off. He is a gutsy cricketer, if he can carry this form into the second Test, it will be great."
The young skipper said the team was all geared up for securing a win in the Kolkata rubber.
"We have come here to win and we would love to do it in Eden Gardens."
Hall said scoring his maiden Test century had been special.
"It is special to score your maiden century. We had good preparation before we came down here," he said adding he was now looking forward to play before a big crowd in Kolkata.