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'It has been a fantastic journey'
Our Correspondent
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November 10, 2008 19:34 IST

You love him or hate him, but you cannot ignore Sourav Ganguly [Images].

Though he was not as talented as his other colleagues in the Fab Four, he still made the most impact of them all in Indian cricket.

In other words, you could never count Ganguly out. He was the most determined cricketer you could ever across and his passion for the game made up for everything he lacked as a batsman or a fielder.

No surprise that he bowed out on his own terms and after a top-notch performance in his final series and not before he had re-enacted his famous Lord's shirt rip-off drama yet again. Responding to a fan's demand the former India captain or Dada as he is fondly called, removed his practice jersey and flung it into the crowd into the stands below the dressing room.

Chants of 'Dada, please don't go' filled the new VCA stadium in Nagpur, but Ganguly was having none of it and was firm in his mind.

"I have had my time. There is a time for everyone to leave and this is my time to leave. I am happy with the way things have gone. I had a good series and we have beaten the best team in the world 2-0. There were a lot of doubts after we came back from Sri Lanka [Images] so coming back and winning 2-0 is probably the best thing that could have happened. I have played well, the team played well and the way this Test match has finished I am ready to sacrifice a year of Test cricket for it," he said after the fourth Test against Australia [Images], which India won by 172 runs to win the four-match series 2-0.

"There is no question of re-considering my decision to retire. As I said the way this Test match finished and the way everything went off it is probably the best finishes I have seen in terms of a team performance so I want to cherish this for a long period. As I said I could easily sacrifice 10 or 12 matches for this," he added.

However, the assuring thing for his fans would be that the left-hander would continue playing in the Indian Premier League [Images] and the occasional Ranji Trophy match.

"I have to play two years in the IPL. I will try and play a few matches for Bengal too, but I don't really know whether I will be able to get up and be ready for that. We will see how it goes but not straight away. I need some time off, I have been on the road for 13 years," he said.

The 36-year-old revealed that it was his mental toughness that saw him make repeated comebacks despite being written off several times in the past.

"I think it is the toughness that I had is much more than what people thought. I had questions over my abilities right through my career but I am happy that I was able to overcome them on the basis of my ability and toughness," he said.

When asked to name his best knock in international cricket, Ganguly found it tough.

"My first Test match at Lord's, the hundred against Australia at Brisbane and also the hundred in this series in Chandigarh. It was an important hundred in my last series so it was important to get runs before I finish. There were a lot of knocks, ODI hundreds. It is difficult for me to pick which one was special," he said.

"My best series will be the 2001 series against Australia and the 2003 series in Australia. I think that definitely would be the two best series in my tenure as a player. We won in other places as well, we won in Pakistan, we won in West Indies [Images], in India of course, in England [Images] but those two series will always remain special," the left-hander added.

Ganguly's career that spanned nearly 13 years was not a roller-coaster ride, but then the Bengali left-hander was never shy of challenges.

"It has been satisfying. To get a hundred in my first Test as a player, to captain nearly in 50 Test matches, 49 to be precise and building a team and building players which has taken Indian cricket team forward. Lastly the way I have finished it has been a fantastic journey. If anybody would have told me when I started that I would go through all this I would not have believed him. But God has been really kind that I have gone through this for 13 years and finished off on a win for Indian cricket."

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni [Images] certainly made Ganguly's last match memorable when he asked the veteran to captain the team for a few overs.

"I enjoyed it. They were not many emotions because we had a Test match to play. I felt very happy with the way this Test match finished and the last one hour on the field was special, I will remember that my entire life. I didn't expect MS to ask me to captain the side for five overs, I managed to do it for three and I told him it is his job and not mine anymore. I am very happy with the way it finished. I have still not realized what it means not playing the game anymore at the present moment. It has been fantastic."

A relaxed Ganguly pointed out that his first ball dismissal in his last Test innings was not that disappointing.

"I was not disappointed with the first ball duck but I was disappointed with the 85 I got. I was so close to getting a hundred and that was more disappointing than getting a first ball duck. I don't know whether one duck made my career dramatic. It was dramatic in any case," he said.

The former India captain said he was misunderstood a lot outside the because of the aggression he displayed on the field.

"I think I am two different personalities, off the field and on the field I am two different persons. Me as a person they have picked up what they saw on the cricket field which is not the right Sourav Ganguly people know. I am very quite and a soft-spoken person. Hopefully I will remain that in the future," he said.

Complete coverage: Australia in India 2008

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