VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly, and Sachin Tendulkar during a felicitation
Former captains Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly reposed faith in Mahendra Singh Dhoni and expressed hopes that under him, India would emerge as the number one team in the world.
“I know for the fact that this team under MS and (coach) Gary (Kirsten) will soon become the number one team. We have that talent,” an optimist Kumble said after he, along with Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman were felicitated by the BCCI.
Ganguly, India’s most successful captain ever, shared Kumble’s view and said, “MS and Gary are our two torch-bearers and I hope they would take Indian cricket forward.”
Ganguly, who is playing his last Test here, took the occasion to thank all and said though he didn’t endear to all, he always had the team interest in mind.
“It was a long journey with lots of ups and downs, victory and loss but it was wonderful. Sharing the dressing room with the likes of Anil, Sachin, Rahul (Dravid) and Laxman has been an honour and privilege.
“During the journey, I made both friends and enemies but it was all for the good of Indian cricket,” said the left-hander.
Kumble individually thanked almost each and every teammate even though Tendulkar came in for special praise. “When he first came into the international scene, whole India said ‘you’d break every batting record’ and he had the talents to prove all right…
“With Rahul, I have shared a special bond, he was my Karnataka teammate as well. We have had some fantastic moments and I say ‘you have been the backbone of Indian cricket. All the success we had came because of your contribution’,” Kumble said.
Kumble was equally effusive in his praise for Ganguly and said, “Under you, we’ve learnt how to win Tests abroad. Besides, we have always cherished your batting.”
On Laxman, who is playing his 100th Test here, Kumble felt the right hander didn’t get his dues despite bailing out the team from difficult situations.
For his spin partner Harbhajan Singh, Kumble said, “I will miss bowling with you from the other end. From now onwards, you’d lead the (spin) attack. You are close to a personal landmark (of 300 Test wickets) and I’m sure one day you’ll become the highest wicket-taker for India.”
On Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan, Kumble said, “I have played lot with both Veeru and Zak. Veeru is a very special talent and both he and Zak would lead the Indian batting and bowling.
“To all other members of the team, I wish you a great career ahead. Before this Test series against Australia, we sat and decided in Bangalore that we have to win this series. We are very close to that and I hope you guys will win it.”
Talking about Kumble and Ganguly, Tendulkar paid a rich tribute to both and said, “Sourav had lots of ups and downs in his career but has shown great determination and delivered tremendous performance. We’ve opened in lot of ODIs and know each other’s game very well.
“Anil too showed 100 percent determination. He broke his jaw in West Indies but returned with a plastered jaw and removed Brian Lara,” Tendulkar said.
“We’ll miss Sourav and Anil, as will the entire country,” he added.
Milestones took centre stage as India closed the first day of the second Test on 311-5 against Australia in Mohali on Friday.
Sachin Tendulkar eclipsed Brian Lara to become the leading run-getter in Test cricket, followed it up with a half-century, and added eight more runs to become the first batsman to score 12000 Test runs before falling short of his 40th Test hundred just before stumps. His partner at the other end, Sourav Ganguly secured one of his own by reaching 7000 runs in the longer version of the game.
Ganguly was batting on 54 and nightwatchman Ishant Sharma was unbeaten on two when stumps were called, after India seemed to throw away a near perfect start to their innings after stand-in captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat in the absence of Anil Kumble, who ruled himself out the game.
India would have more tick marks in the honours board, but the wicket of Tendulkar towards the end of day’s play means Australia had removed half of India’s batting order, and the iffy form of Dhoni would surely keep them interested.
After a run-riot in the first session in which India raced to 104-1 in 25 overs, Australia fought back with three quick wickets to leave the hosts on 174-4 at the end of the second session with two new batsmen at the crease, having added just 70 runs in the afternoon session.
Old Pros Shine
This is why Tendulkar and Ganguly’s partnership — they added 142 for the fifth wicket — became all the more crucial. The hard Mohali surface allowed the batsmen to play their strokes, but had to be wary of further damage to their innings. But it was just the kind of wicket where it’s foolish for a batsman to throw it away after getting a start. Tendulkar could tell, having fallen for 88 to give debutant Peter Siddle his first Test wicket.
Dravid and Laxman had already fallen prey to soft dismissals — both edged to the wicketkeeper down the leg side — while Sehwag too fell to an edge. At four wickets down and virtually no momentum propelling the score, the duo had to wait for their scoring opportunities.
They came, and they came in plenty. Both Tendulkar and Ganguly were aided by a pitch they could trust, and the occasional loose delivery was promptly dispatched to the boundary, much like Gautam Gambhir did in the morning.
Sachin Tendulkar broke Brian Lara’s record for most Test runs in the final session of day one in Mohali when he hit Peter Siddle to third man for two runs. The record stood for nearly two years after Lara played his final Test and it was inevitable that Tendulkar would eventually break it. Incidentally, he is also one-day cricket’s leading run-scorer with 16,631 runs.
Tendulkar was expected to attain the feat in Sri Lanka recently but he endured a poor series with the bat, scoring just 95 runs in three Tests. It was only fitting, though, that he achieved the record against Australia, a team he has tormented several times in the past.
Coincidentally, Lara too achieved the world record against Australia, when he went past Allan Border’s tally of 11,174 runs during the Adelaide Test in 2005. They remain the only three players to cross the 11,000-run mark in Tests. Though it is uncertain how long Tendulkar will prolong his Test career – which has lasted 19 years – the two players who stand the best chance of beating his eventual tally are Rahul Dravid (10,341) and Ricky Ponting (10,239).
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