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Ganguly still has much to offer to Indian cricket: Viswanath

July 07, 2008 22:40 IST

On the eve of Sourav Ganguly's 36th birthday which coincides with team selection for upcoming Sri Lanka tour, former chief selector Gundappa Rangnath Viswanath made case for the ex-India captain, saying he still had much to deliver to the national team.

Viswanath had spotted talent in 17-year-old Ganguly, who was then making his debut against Delhi in the 1989-90 Ranji final at the Eden Gardens. And it was former cricketer Sambaran Banerjee, who had included the left-hander as a "bowling allrounder".

The rest, as they say, is history.

It is not an issue if Ganguly does not figure in the Board's one-day scheme of things, but Viswanth and Banerjee feel that Ganguly still has the indomitable fighting spirit.

Refusing to comment on the seniors versus youngsters issue, a day after India's humiliating 100-run loss against Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup final in Karachi on Sunday, former India captain Viswanath said, "He had a tremendous career and in fact he is still going strong. He still has a lot to offer to the Indian cricket. He already has showed us how strong he's mentally with the famous comeback during the 2006-07 South Africa tour."

After Ganguly was dropped for the home Tests against England in early 2006, Ganguly made a strong comeback in December 2006 and was the highest Indian run-scorer in that series and capped his fairytale comeback with four half-centuries on his return to ODIs.

Continuing his fine run, Ganguly found himself at "home" in England, finishing as the second highest scorer in Tests and went on to slam back-to-back hundreds against Pakistan at home, the second of which was a glorious 239 in Bangalore.

The first, by the way, was an elusive hundred at his home ground Eden Gardens.

Recalling the days, when Ganguly made Ranji debut, the 59-year-old former Indian batsman said, "I watched the match from the sidelines. He looked good in his knock of 22 and showed some promise."

"And who can forget his Test debut? The way he played the Lord's Test, I knew he has something in him. Having seen him much before that, I knew he had talent. He just reinforced the faith with the hundred in his Test debut... As a batsman it also gives you a lot of confidence," Viswanath, who was the selection committee chairman when Ganguly was picked for the England Tests, told PTI from Bangalore.

As for the captaincy, Viswanath added, "Ganguly was among the shrewdest captain. He extracted best from his boys, showed the quality of leadership."

For Banerjee, who gave Ganguly the "first break", the left-hander is the finest captain India has produced after Mohammed Azharuddin.

"Ganguly needs no introduction. He is the only successful captain India has produced after Azharuddin. I've been seeing him since he was eight years old.

"I was the captain when we picked him for the Ranji final against Delhi. He was barely 17 but he impressed all of us with his gutsy innings against a Delhi bowling line-up which had Manoj Prabhakar, Atul Wassan and Maninder Singh among the ranks," Banerjee said.

Bengal won their second Ranji Trophy (the first being the one in 1938-39) by winning the rain-affected match by virtue of a better run quotient.

"He also impressed us with his bowling. In fact, he was included in the side as a bowling allrounder as we wanted a fifth bowler."

Asked whether India lacked an experienced batsman like Ganguly in the Asia Cup final match against Sri Lanka yesterday, Banerjee who refused to comment on the selection of the team, however said, "I believe he still got the same spirit and he can give at least two three years to the Indian cricket."

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