Sharjah: Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President and former India captain Sourav Ganguly has named his favourite to lift the T20 World Cup 2021 trophy at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday. New Zealand will take on Australia in the summit clash of the T20 World Cup on November 14. Ganguly feels Kane Williamson-led New Zealand has got more “guts and character” and will start as the favourites against Australia in the T20 World Cup final. The former India skipper also spoke about a host of other issues – Team India’s failure at the quadrennial event, Rahul Dravid’s appointment as the national coach to bilateral cricket between India and Pakistan.

“I feel it is New Zealand’s time in world sport. Australia are a great nation, but they have had a tough time for a while, though they have been a great cricketing country. New Zealand has a lot more guts and character than we see on TV. They won the World Test Championship a few months ago,” Ganguly spoke at a book-signing ceremony on the concluding day of the 40th Sharjah International Book Fair on Saturday.

“It’s a small country but it’s got a lot of steel. I have the feeling that it is indeed New Zealand’s time.”

The 49-year-old also hailed the spirit of the current Indian cricket team despite their debacle in the World T20 event. Speaking about the fortunes of Virat Kohli’s team, Ganguly said: “India has had a great run. They beat Australia in Australia, and were ahead in England until the Test series was disrupted due to Covid-19. So they have done some wonderful things and you can expect more in the weeks and months to come.”

On whether he had any influence on Rahul Dravid’s recent selection as India’s head coach, Ganguly jokingly said that he was just responding to an urgent plea by Dravid’s son. “I got a call from him saying his father was being too strict with him and that he needed to be taken away. That’s when I called Rahul (Dravid) and told him that it was time for him to join the national team,” Ganguly said.

“We grew up together, started around the same time, and spent most of the time playing together. So it was easy for some of us to make him feel welcome and wanted,” Ganguly added on a more serious note, explaining how Dravid became the Indian team’s coach.

He described his former teammate as a “tremendous ambassador” of the game, who played cricket in the “right spirit”.

Talking about his personal highs as an administrator, Ganguly said that although he rated his feats as a player higher, he could not rule out what the team had achieved in Australia earlier this year, winning the four-Test series 2-1.

“The way (Rishabh) Pant and (Shubhman) Gill came out attacking to chase down 328 was remarkable and even more, to do it without the likes of Kohli, Shami, Ashwin. To beat Australia in Australia is always incredible,” Ganguly said, as he went on to reminisce about his experiences in Australia.

Ganguly then explained why he thought Australia were the best team he had ever faced as a captain or a player.

“Australia were nearly invincible from 1995 to 2008 under Steve Waugh. That was a different kettle of fish. And that’s why I thought beating them in 2001 changed Indian cricket forever. They came to India with 16 wins in a row, calling it the final frontier,” he said.

Responding to a question on India-Pakistan bilateral cricket, especially with his former cricketing rival Rameez Raja taking over as Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, he said it was not in his hands.

“This is not in the hands of the boards. At world tournaments, the two teams do play each other. Bilateral cricket has been stopped for years and this is something that the respective governments have to work on. This is not in Rameez’s hands, nor mine,” Ganguly said.