Former India skipper Sourav Ganguly is quiet familiar with the situation the Indian team is in right now. Virat Kohli-led side is under immense pressure after being thrashed by Australia in the first match of the Border-Gavaskar series much like the series of 2001, when the Sourav Ganguly-led side lost by 10 wickets in the series opener in Mumbai before winning the next two Tests to win the series.
However, a big difference between the two matches was the quality of the Australian side. The Aussie team of 2001, consisting of Steve Waugh, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden, Michael Slater, Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting, had arrived in India after winning a world record 15 straight Test wins. The number quickly became 16 after they registered a comprehensive victory in Mumbai.
On the other hand, the current Australian team led by the talented Steven Smith is full of newcomers who are still finding their feet in Test cricket. And so it is safe to say that their victory in Pune has left everyone surprised and Ganguly is no different.
Speaking to India Today, he said:
“Even it (the defeat to Australia in the Mumbai Test) happened in the Western part of India. Australia surprised me to be honest. When you look at that Australian side of 2001, they had every ammunition in the armoury to beat a side anywhere in the world. You look at the spin department, you look at the batting department.”
“I still remember the innings Adam Gilchrist played in Mumbai. That was the best knock I have seen on a tuning pitch. It turned, it bounced and he smashed everything. But Australia’s performance was terrific in Pune. To get India out twice for 105 and 107 was a monumental effort. But I actually still believe deep inside that India will win this series,” he added.
When asked about his strategy after his team was thrashed in Mumbai, Ganguly said:
“I didn’t have a strategy because we had lost the first Test, we had lost the first two days of the (second) Test match and there was no strategy and the only thing we did was that we kept pushing those guys for one more session and then another session.”
The former India star also had a word of praise for Virat Kohli’s attitude after his team’s 19-match unbeaten run ended in a disastrous manner.
“I loved the press conference Virat did after the match. He was not trying to hide anything. It was just that we didn’t bat well and that is why we lost the Test match. At the same time, he said it is one-off and I believe the same. India has been brilliant in the last 10 months, winning almost everything but they will have to come back and play hard,” he said.
“Virat Kohli has terrific leadership skills. I have a lot of faith in his leadership. He is honest which is very important and his message to his team is very clear. I saw his pictures in the newspapers and saw that he was off to a cliff for a break and it is a great thing. He won’t keep winning forever,” added the 44-year-old.
Meanwhile, Ganguly said the hosts can play an extra batsman in place of Jayant Yadav as he feels two spinners are enough to take 20 wickets on Indian pitches.
“May be I could leave Jayant Yadav out and play extra batsman give Karun Nair a chance. Ajinkya Rahane is looking a little down in confidence. You just need 4 bowlers in India. Two spinners will give you 20 wickets in Test matches. Bowlers will have to bowl long spells Ashwin and Jadeja are capable of doing that,” he concluded.