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India is the new Australia: Wasim Akram

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s leadership has changed the face of Indian cricket, according to Pakistan’s pace legend Wasim Akram who believes it is a matter of time before India upstages Australia as the number one team in the world.

Akram said Dhoni has completely transformed the team ever since he took over the mantle of captaincy and that Indian cricket was on the right track with a number of talented players in their ranks.

“Dhoni has changed the face of Indian cricket, there is no doubt about that. He leads from the front, he has charisma and players like him. You can’t ask for anything more,” Akram said in a telephonic interview.

“He has given the team the confidence. The players now believe that they can go and beat any team and it is this confidence that has helped India to bring about the desired results,” the former Pakistan captain said.

Akram, regarded as one of the finest left-arm speedsters with 414 Test and 502 ODI wickets to his credit in a career spanning nearly 17 years, said Dhoni had also brought about a refreshing change in his attitude and approach to matches.

“It does not matter whether Sachin Tendulkar is resting or some other players are injured, the Indians are so confident that they go out and do the job. It was not the case about six or seven years ago, India did not have that confidence,” he observed.

“If the captain leads from the front, half the job is done. That is what I like about Dhoni. He is cool, comes out with few quotes and gets the best out of his players,” Akram said.

“Leading the Chennai team in the upcoming Champions League will be a good challenge for him since there will be a lot of international teams,” he said.

Asked whether India would be able to topple Australia as the number one team in the near future, Akram said “India is the new Australia. I think they are on the right track to achieve that”.

Akram also lavished praise on India’s new pace sensation Ishant Sharma saying the Delhi youngster had improved by leaps and bounds in the last few months.

“Ishant has been a revelation. He has really improved in the last few months and I think he is a real asset to India,” Akram said about the paceman who emerged as the man-of-the-series in the recent Test series against Australia.

“After the Australian tour late last year, his length was slightly short. But he has now rectified that and was simply brilliant in the recent series against Australia. The way he bowled, it seemed he had been around in Test cricket for five years or so,” he said.

The cricketer-turned-commentator said Ishant will only get better with time but also cautioned that the youngster needed to be handled well to prolong his career.

“He (Ishant) will get quicker and better with time, there is no doubt about it. He just has to keep himself fit as fast bowling is hard work,” Akram pointed out.

He said the Indian bowling line-up looked quite balanced at the moment and the presence of an in-form Zaheer Khan has provided a lot more sting.

“Zaheer has been fantastic. He has bowled the reverse swing well, got the ball to swing in and out… he has become a complete bowler now. He really provides that cutting edge to the attack,” he said.

“India always had good spinners but I am happy to see these pacemen developing. They are winning matches for India”, Akram said.

The ex-pacer said Harbhajan Singh was capable enough to shoulder the responsibility in the spin department following the retirement of champion leg spinner Anil Kumble.

“Harbhajan is a good spinner. It is now upto him to take upon the responsibility in the spin department. I think he is capable of doing it and also has the experience”.

Akram also credited India’s rise as a cricketing nation to the planning done by the BCCI over the last few years.

“Credit must also go the BCCI for India’s rise in recent times. They have planned and implemented everything well. The results have started coming now,” he added.

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November 24, 2008 Posted by | Cricket, General, India Related, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ganguly: I won’t miss cricket

Goodbye Dada!

Sourav Ganguly, who returned home to Kolkata to a rousing welcome from fans Tuesday said he would not miss cricket.

The former India skipper also said like to meet the soccer legend Diego Maradona when he comes to Kolkata.

“I just want to see him,” Ganguly said referring to the Argentine footballer.

Having returned to his home town after playing his last Test at Nagpur, Ganguly said that he would, however, miss the company of his teammates.

At his Behala residence Ganguly told reporters: “We share a good camaraderie among ourselves. We make fun and crack jokes together. I don’t think I will miss cricket but will miss the companions.” Reiterating that he will not change his retirement decision, Ganguly said: “In sports, you have to retire one day. It’s about physical ability. Once you start playing, you have to call it quits some day. It’s like when you are born you have to die … All great players like Maradona, Pele, Sampras and Gavaskar retired…” Ganguly picked his Lord’s debut Test, his first captaincy and the recent series win as his Big Three moments.

About his future plans, Ganguly ruled out commentary as an option.

“There are a lot of opportunities coming in. But, at present, there is no such plan to do commentary … It needs lot of travelling.” Ganguly added that he is yet to decide on his future plans.

“You have to wait and see … I have not thought about it yet. IPL is in April there’s a long way to go … But I will definitely do something that will contribute to the game.”

On the 2-0 series win to clinch the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Ganguly said, “We outplayed them in all the departments … We celebrated a lot. It was fantastic. We had lot of drinks as we never done in life. We had great fun … Anil and I were there present and celebrated our win till 1 in the night.” Praising Mahendra Singh Dhoni, he added, “He (Dhoni) has done well as captain in his last one year tenure and I am sure, he will take India cricket forward. There’s a lot of talented players it depends how they transform them into performance.” Earlier, there was chaos at the airport as large number of fans gathered to welcome him.

His car was mobbed and halted before he was escorted by the pilot vehicles from the VVIP exit of the airport.

Police had to resort to mild baton charge to calm down the situation as Ganguly’s black SUV with his wife Dona and daughter Sana on board made way to their Behala residence.

There were chants of “Dada Dada … Ami tumake bhulchhi na, bhulbo na… (Dada we are not going to forget you).” Some waved the Tricolour while others carried Ganguly’s posters.

The CAB will organise a grand function at the Eden Gardens on December 7 to felicitate Sourav in a befitting manner.

November 12, 2008 Posted by | Cricket, General, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment