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Winning Padma Shri a great honour: Ganguly

June 30, 2004 20:32 IST

India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly sought to play down the raging debate on India's opening combination, saying there is no controversy and the matter would be sorted out before the Test series against Australia gets underway.

Ganguly, who had anointed the aggressive Yuvraj Singh as the new Test opener during the fitness camp in Bangalore recently, said a decision on the opening combination will be taken keeping the team's interest in mind.

"There is no controversy (about the opening combination). Even if it is there, it will be sorted out," he told reporters after being conferred the prestigious Padma Shri by President A P J Abdul Kalam at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Ganguly, the country's most successful Test captain, added: "It is a great honour to receive this award. I am extremely happy about it."

Asked whether the award would put additional pressure on him now, the stylish left-hander replied: "The pressure of performance will always be there for any sportsperson."

Vice-captain Rahul Dravid, who also received the Padma Shri, said, "It is a great honour for me to receive this prestigious award."

Athletes K M Beenamol and Anju Bobby George and India hockey captain Dilip Tirkey were the other sportspersons to be conferred the Padma Shri.

Anju and Tirkey, however, could not make it to the ceremony because of overseas assignments.

Tirkey is taking part in the four-nation tournament in Amsterdam while Anju is in Zagreb for an athletic meet.

Ganguly, who transformed the Indian team into a fighting unit since taking over in 2000, has a record 15 Test victories to his credit, eclipsing Mohammad Azahruddin's tally of 14 wins as captain.

A veteran of 73 Tests, Ganguly has compiled 4586 runs at an average of 42.07 in the longer version of the game and has 9309 runs in One-Dayers Internationals, at an average of 42.12.

Dravid, nick-named 'The Wall', has been one of the batting mainstays in recent times with an impressive average of 58.09 in 78 Tests and 39.40 in the ODIs.

Both Dravid and Ganguly mixed freely with the invited guests after the function. Ganguly introduced his wife and other family members to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Leader of the Opposition L K Advani.

Anju became India's first long jumper to win a bronze medal in the World Athletics championships in Paris last year year while K M Beenamol won two gold and a silver medal in the Busan Asian Games.

Tirkey, an outstanding defender, led the country to victory in the Asia Cup and Afro-Asian Games.

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