India can save the SCG Test, says Sourav Ganguly

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly felt Indian batsmen need to bat out of their skin to save the ongoing Test match Getty Images

Sydney: Jan 4, 2012

India are down on their knees in the second Test against Australia but former skipper Sourav Ganguly says it is not “impossible” to save the match but for that to happen Indian batsmen need to bat out of their skins.

India have already conceded a mammoth 291-run lead and three days’ play is still left in the match, where a victory will hand Australia an unassailable 2-0 lead.

Ganguly sought to remind India the superb win against the same opponents at Kolkata in 2001, where India came up triumphant against all odds.

“I don’t believe in the word ‘impossible’ in sport after what India did to Australia at Eden Gardens in 2001. We followed on 274 runs behind but came back to win the match by 171 runs, thanks mainly to V.V.S Laxman and Rahul Dravid’s efforts with the bat and Harbhajan Singh’s bowling on the final day.

“But can such a remarkable feat be repeated? To get even close to something like that – or indeed simply save this match, the Indian batsmen will have to bat out of their skins when they get their chance,” Ganguly said.

The former India skipper said what hurt India the most was an off-colour Zaheer Khan.

“The first session was so important for India. It was not only a match-changing, but potentially a series-deciding, session. India were below par, mostly because senior bowler Zaheer Khan looked a little off his rhythm in his first spell. He is so important to this Indian bowling unit, the team’s fortunes change with his form and he was off his game.”

Ganguly also questioned Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s decision to introduce part-time spinner Virender Sehwag early into the attack.

“The introduction of Virender Sehwag at the 20th over with the second new ball was baffling to everybody. This was India’s best chance to pick up wickets and get back into the game, especially as there was so much time left.”

Ganguly was all praise for Michael Clarke for leading the Australian side in a terrific manner. Clarke hit his career’s first double century to put his side in a commanding position.

“The skipper at the start of the series said that the time had come for each of his batters to stand up, and what an example he has set.

“Clarke has been a fine leader. From the start of the series he came across as a man capable of handling the senior players. His handling of Ponting and Michael Hussey when the entire media and past players were gunning for their heads is an example to all. And they have delivered for him in this series,” he wrote in his column for Sydney Morning Herald.

Ganguly also said that Ponting’s striking form with a century is not what India need.

“Ponting is a class act and he will be relieved. It was written all over his face. There is nothing more satisfying for a batsman than when he performs under pressure – no matter who he is.

“His footwork has gone through a massive change. I was surprised when watching him on TV in the Hobart Test from my drawing room in Kolkata. He batted well in Melbourne, but looked so assured at the SCG. He has grown in confidence and that is not good news for India,” he stated. (PTI)