Former India captain Sourav Ganguly feels that Mahesh Bhupathi should have agreed to play Leander Paes in the Olympics as the latter is a terrific doubles player.
Heaping praise on Paes who along with Elena Vesnina stunned top seeds Bob Bryan and Liezel Huber to enter the Wimbledon mixed doubles final on Saturday, Ganguly said, "Paes is a terrific doubles player. I feel Bhupathi should have agreed to play with Leander for the interest of the country."
While Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna refused to partner Paes in the men's doubles, Sania has made her preference to partner the Bangalorean clear as 39-year-old from Kolkata has agreed to partner a lower-ranked Vishnu Vardhan in the men's doubles for his sixth Olympics appearance.
Talking to reporters after celebrating his 40th birthday with fans in Kolkata on Sunday, Ganguly also said Bishan Singh Bedi had agreed to become the spinners' coach for the senior Bengal team.
"I've heard that he (Bedi) has agreed to it. Bengal cricket will benefit a lot from him, if he becomes the spinners' coach."
Ganguly had suggested Bedi as the spinners' coach for the senior Bengal team as the former left-arm spinner would be here as chief guest during CAB's annual awards ceremony on July 22.
Asked if he would agree to be a full time batting coach for his home state, Ganguly said: "I can't devote so much time."
Ganguly hoped that talented Bengal youngster Manoj Tiwary, who hit a century in his last ODI appearance but only to sit out, would get a chance in the series in Sri Lanka.
"He (Tiwary) is in good form. Hope he gets a chance in Sri Lanka and do well for India," said Ganguly.
Asked about his future as a cricketer, Ganguly said, "I still have one year's contract left with Pune Warriors.
"For me life is simple. Be it 39, 40 or 41, it does not matter. It's just a number." he said.
Ganguly agreed that Virender Sehwag's recent comments that a strong team backed by an able captain (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) led to India winning the World Cup were "twisted" by the media and advised the players to talk by their performance.
"Sehwag is mature enough not to make such comments. It's time to talk less and perform on the field," Ganguly said.
Meanwhile, Sourav Ganguly's fan club celebrated their hero's birthday, reciting poems and cutting a cake at the former captain's residence at Behala this morning.
"Sourav called us inside his residence and cut the cake. We sang a poem for him and he was very happy," founder of the club Ratan Haldar said.
"My brother (Sunil) and I have been celebrating his birthday since his exit in 2005."
Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images