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Ganguly was asked to step down as captain

Ashish Shukla | September 15, 2005 22:16 IST
Last Updated: September 15, 2005 22:59 IST

India captain Sourav Ganguly [Images] on Thursday made the sensational disclosure that he was asked to step down as captain before the start of the first Test against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo.

After scoring 101 in India's first innings, Ganguly said he was asked to relinquish the captaincy on the eve of the match.

Though he did not quite take Greg Chappell's [Images] name, he give enough indications that it was the coach who wanted him to do so.

Chappell, when asked about it, said the only thing he would share with the press is the composition the team should have for the match.

Ganguly, who had left the practice session on the eve of the match for half an hour, confirmed that he did so because he was upset with this demand on him.

"Yes, it was suggested. I was under a lot of pressure," he said.

He said India's poor performance was only restricted to one-dayers recently and the only instance he personally failed was against Pakistan earlier this year.

He said he has scored close to 1000 runs in the last 16 Test innings.

Ganguly said Thursday's century, which came off 262 balls after a near six-hour stay at the crease against an inexperienced attack, meant a lot to him since he had not performed well recently and was under a lot of pressure.

"Yes, it is 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 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.

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."

Ganguly was leading the team for the 48th time in a Test, the most for any Indian skipper. He is also India's most successful captain with a 19-13 record.

When pressed to name the person who asked him to step down, and whether it was Chappell, Ganguly would only commit that what he said was true and the press would have to ask the coach about it.

He said despite the pressure he tried to carry on gamely in this match and God had been kind to him.

He also reacted to VVS Laxman's comment that he got negative vibes from the team and from outside during his difficult days.

"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."

The Prince of Kolkata had recently said that there were too many things running in his mind and that it had been hard six months for him.

Ganguly said his silence said everything and he would come out with the full story when required.

He said those who question his form would do well to look at the statistics and would find that he has scored nearly 1000 runs in last 16 Tests.

"I admit I didn't do well against Pakistan, but my score hasn't been as bad as it has been made out to be," he said, adding that a person who has scored 16,000 international runs has got to have something in him.

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