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We have seen better teams, says Ganguly
Ashish Shukla - 4 October 2001

Sourav Ganguly
Sourav Ganguly in power glasses came down through the West Gate entrance of the Wanderers on a lovely Tuesday afternoon. It was a kind of day where sun, shade and breeze were in such perfect harmony that you felt even a person in coma would be stirred.

The last few days had been spent in gleaning inside information about the South Africans. Ganguly, of course, has his own opinion about Shaun Pollock and his men and, as is to be expected from him, he is at times dismissive of them.

Ganguly can't see the Proteas scorching the turf consistently without 'White Lightning' Allan Donald. Mfunenko Ngam, of course, has been in the news a great deal and Ganguly is certain that the South Africa will let the 'Eastern Express' loose on them in at least one Test, possibly the last one at Centurion. But as far as the Prince of Kolkata is concerned, it is Donald and Donald alone who is the main threat.

Allan Donald

"I remember him in Nairobi (the ICC mini World Cup) last year and he was the same Donald I have known all these years - lovely variations and pacey as ever," says Ganguly in a voice full of admiration. The mention of Roger Telemachus' name also catches his attention. But not those of Shaun Pollock and Jacques Kallis!

"I also feel they are a bit light in the batting," says Ganguly as plucks a few tufts of grass here and there while collecting his thoughts. "I have seen Neil McKenzie and he is not the kind of batsman you would back against spinners."

Far away in the middle of Wanderers, an imposing coliseum made up of tiers and more tiers, the rest of the Indians are practicing their throws, after having been broken down into two divisions facing each other.

Ganguly is with another Sourav, a certain Sourav Chakravorty, who once played with him on the maidans of Kolkata and is now based in Johannesburg. "He was my captain at club and he is now the captain of the Indian team," gushes Sourav the pretender, as captain Ganguly smiles benignly.

Ganguly thinks the present South African team is not a patch on the Australians. "They (the Australians) have four fast bowlers and all of them are match-winners," says Ganguly, while comparing the South Africans with the likes of Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Brett Lee and Shane Warne. Perhaps it is running the names those big names over in his mind that throws up the next statement. "Australia is in a class of its own in world cricket at the moment," he states with a finality that is hard to dispute.

He is surprised to know the South Africans are playing six back-to- back Tests against Australia, three away and three at home, after seeing off the Indians and wonders how the Proteas would cope with the strain of it all. "They (the Aussies) play with a rare intensity," states Ganguly. "There is no letting up, they just squeeze out of all your resources."

Ganguly, interestingly, has the highest average among international batsmen who have played against South Africa in one-dayers. He is also among a handful of batsmen who have two one-day hundreds against the Proteas. "And I missed two, including an unbeaten 97 in the World Cup opener at Hove," Ganguly reminds gently.

Incidentally, Ganguly's 141 at Nagpur during the now infamous home 2000 one-day series is the highest by an Indian batsman against South Africa. The score is put in the right perspective when one remembers that no international batsman has crossed 150 against South Africa in a one-day international.

The Indian skipper feels that himself and the rest of the batsmen can handle everything the South Africans throw at them. But, Ganguly adds, it would have been helpful if Hemang Badani could also have come along. The skipper feels sorry for the classy Badani, who sadly ran into a terrible patch in Sri Lanka. One could see he is still willing to back him. After all, a certain Sourav Chandidas Ganguly went through a similar ordeal by fire when he started his international career in 1991.

© CricInfo

Teams India, South Africa.
Players/Umpires Hemang Badani, Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Neil McKenzie, Jason Gillespie, Sourav Ganguly, Allan Donald.
Tournaments Standard Bank Triangular Tournament
African Safari - Other issues
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