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Laxman could be the Indian ace: Ganguly

March 02, 2005 17:18 IST

VVS Laxman could turn out to be India's batting ace against "dangerous" opponents Pakistan in the upcoming Test and one-day series, according to Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly.

"All the players are good, but in this series I back VVS Laxman. My feeling is that he is going to get a lot of runs," said the Indian skipper ahead of the India-Pakistan series beginning next week.

Ganguly did not agree with his Pakistani counterpart Inzamam-ul Haq's assertion that pressure would be on India to perform well at home.

"Irrespective of whether the two neighbours play in India or Pakistan, England, South Africa, wherever -- pressure is equal on both the teams," he told a BBC Hindi and Urdu joint programme last night.

"Conditions in India and Pakistan are similar. Look at the wickets, grounds, climate and the atmosphere. When we went to Pakistan last year, the conditions for us were like being at home. Similar would be the case with Pakistan this time. Pressure is always there in international cricket, wherever you play."

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Asked to comment on the views of many former Pakistan players that their team was weakened by the absence of Shoaib Akhtar and some other players, Ganguly said: "It has become a system in the subcontinent where own people like to speak against their team. When we went to Australia someone had said the Aussies would win 3-0 or 4-0. It is a problem of the subcontinent. The results are there for all to see."

"I feel Pakistan has a young and fit team, which is hungry for success. In my view they have done the right thing by bringing a fit team, rather than bringing injured players. It is better to have a fully fit team than having an injured Shoaib Akhtar or even Don Bradman for that matter.

"I do not agree with those who say Pakistan team is weak and has given India a walkover. It would be a tough series and next 50 days would be a treat for the fans of both sides," Ganguly said.

The skipper said it would not be right to term India favourites. "Pakistan is always a dangerous team to play against. They play well one day, while the other day their performance might not be that good. That is why they are dangerous opponents. Shoaib's absence is good news for India, but we cannot take the young, fit and energetic team lightly at all.

"Our's is an experienced team. If you go by the records our batting line-up is formidable. But let me make it clear that during the next 50 days, past records, statistics and averages would not matter. The team out of the two, which would play well on a given day would win."

On Mohammad Kaif being dropped from the team at the expense of Yuvraj Singh, Ganguly said: "I don't want to discuss Yuvraj and Kaif. Both are good players. I think the selectors might have taken Yuvraj's performance in Pakistan last year into account while deciding the team."

Answering a question on Sachin Tendulkar's fitness and form, the captain said, "when Sachin says he is 100 per cent fit, he is, and nobody has a right to talk about the form of a man who has 70 international hundreds".

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