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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.

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

Sachin Tendulkar praises Sourav Ganguly, says he’ll be missed

Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly smile after India defeated Australia in the second Test in Mohali.

TWO LEGENDS: Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly smile after India defeated Australia in the second Test in Mohali.

Sourav Ganguly, one of India’s most charismatic cricketers, will be seen for the last time as an international player on Monday. Ganguly is retiring from international cricket after nearly 16 years.

Sachin Tendulkar says the entire country will miss the elegant left-hand batsman, who has often been described as the ‘God of off-side’.

“Everyone will miss Sourav. He is not only my teammate but is a very special player and has contributed a lot to the team and country. He has had a fantastic career and when a player like him retires not only the team but the entire country will miss him,” Tendulkar said.

Ironically, Ganguly’s last Test innings, just like Sir Don Bradman, ended in a duck on Sunday. He was caught and bowled by Jason Krejza in the second innings of the Nagpur Test against Australia off the first ball that he faced.

A bit disappointing for Ganguly, but his fans will look back on his international career with great pride. He started with a century on debut and made a sublime 85 in the first innings of the Nagpur Test against Australia; although he had to end with a golden duck.

So was Ganguly pleased with how his career turned out?

A few days a go in an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN’s Sanjeeb Mukherjee, Ganguly had said he would have liked a few more Test runs under against his name.

Sanjeeb Mukherjea: Talking about Sourav Ganguly — the batsman, do you think you neglected your batting?

Sourav Ganguly: No, I didn’t. In terms of my One-Day performance, I think it’s been outstanding. In terms of my Test cricket, I would have loved to have a few more runs but I also batted at No. 5 and No. 6 and although it is not an excuse but I thought that although I have more that 7,000 runs in test cricket, a few more would have been happy to go with.

Sanjeeb Mukherjea: What were the reactions of Sachin, Dravid, Anil and Sehwag, when you broke the news to them?

Sourav Ganguly: I’m sure they knew that at some stage it had to come. It’s going to come for them as well. They were not surprised, they expected it. Everybody has to go in sports. It’s my turn today and it will be their turn sometime.

Sanjeeb Mukherjea: It must have been an emotional moment for you also?

Sourav Ganguly: It wasn’t that emotional buy obviously we would miss it. Initially, you will miss the competitiveness because the pleasure you got by scoring a Test hundred or an One-Day hundred, it cannot be valued by anything else. Every time you get a hundred, you feel ‘this is what I wanted to do and I am still good at it’. That satisfaction will not come from anything else. Financially, when you play for 13-14 years in modern cricket, you are far past well-off. That’s not an issue.

Ganguly made his One-Day debut against the West Indies during the 1991/92 Benson and Hedges World Series Cup at Brisbane Cricket Ground, Woolloongabba, Brisbane, in Australia while his first Test match was against England at Lord’s in 1996.

November 10, 2008 Posted by | Cricket, General, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment