Nobody can argue about him being India’s most successful Test captain and one of the greatest one-day batsmen of all time. Sourav Ganguly shared his tips & tricks with Vikrant Gupta in an exclusive interview, talking about his experience in past World Cups and how he evaluates 2015 World Cup.
On India’s World Cup title defence:
Though it’s still too early to predict the winner, India boast the team that is capable of retaining the World Cup. Their transformation in the tournament has been amazing. The knockout stage will be crucial and only the best teams will survive. India must focus on one game at a time to build on their campaign. South Africa, even if they lost their last game against Pakistan, are still strong contenders at the World Cup.
On India’s hiccups during West Indies game:
On MS Dhoni’s knock against West Indies:
It was also a crucial game for MS Dhoni who has been missing in action for the Indian team. It allowed him to get his confidence back while he played a responsible innings for his team. He avoided risky shots and build his innings on singles to get India home.
On India’s performance in the bowling department:
The Indian bowlers are complementing the batsmen in the best possible manner. The bowlers have actually made life easier for the batsmen. They’ve bowled out the opposition in crucial games including South Africa and West Indies. Pakistan was the only team that managed to score over 200 runs against India in the tournament. The bowlers have actually taken the centre stage this time around. The history has showed that the batsmen have dominated when India has played well. In the early phase of the World Cup, it’s actually the bowlers who have set the game for the team.
The defining moment in the World Cup so far:
Shikhar Dhawan’s runs at the top against Pakistan and South Africa have been crucial for India’s campaign in the World Cup. A good opening stand is always crucial for a team. South Africa’s struggle has been majorly affected by the same reason. Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla have struggled to score runs at the top order. Opening is a very important aspect in these conditions. Dhawan has been the real game changer for India so far. Though the Indian fast bowlers have also been crucial, but runs at the top are very important.
On World Cup title contenders:
India, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand are my top four favourites to clinch the World title. Anybody’s capable of beating anyone on the all-important day. But, India and New Zealand have been most consistent in the tournament so far. But as I said, anyone is capable of springing a surprise in the knockout stage.
On India’s opponent in the quarterfinals:
It depends on the England-Bangladesh game. I believe England will sail through and they can make the competition a bit tougher for India. They have beaten India in the past and are more than capable of getting the better of MS Dhoni’s men in the quarters. But if Bangladesh managed to knock England out, then life will obviously be easier for the Indian team. Bangladesh, despite producing big upsets in the past, doesn’t have the art of beating big teams consistently. As an Indian, I would actually prefer Bangladesh over England to play against India in the quarterfinals.
Weaker links in Indian team:
The Indian team has been superb and I don’t think there are any weak links. I’ve said before, you don’t fix anything if it’s not broken. And nothing looks broken at the moment for India and they’ve been in top form.
On World Cup triumph in 1983:
I remember that night, it was raining in Kolkata. I was 10 years old and there was no cable television at our disposal. We were watching the final on Doordarshan and I remember the last wicket of Mohinder Amarnath when Michael Holding went for the pull and got out lbw. The players running from the ground to the Lord’s balcony was just unbelievable. It actually triggered Indian cricket forward. It was my first and foremost experience of the World Cup. In 1992, I was part of the Test team and played the Tri-series too. But, I missed the World Cup after being left out of the squad since I was fairly young. I watched that World Cup from home. I also remember the semifinals in the 1996 World Cup when Sri Lanka went past India. I was in the stands watching that game. There were flames all over the ground and the crowd was unhappy. The Indian players were being criticized and I believe they misread the pitch – bowled on a track where they should have batted first.
On playing his first-ever World Cup in 1999:
The 1999 World Cup was my first time on the big stage. I played my first World Cup game against South Africa where I scored 97 runs before being run-out by Jonty Rhodes. It was special playing in England because I also played my first Test match there in 1996. I wasn’t scoring runs in the warm-up games ahead of the World Cup. So I really had to work hard before the first game against South Africa. They had superb attack in Pollock, Donald, Klusener and Kallis. I was happy to get runs and that’s how my World Cup started. I also went on register my big hundred against Sri Lanka where I scored 183 runs. In the crucial game against England, I also managed to get runs and wickets for the team. I managed to claim two or three Man of the Match awards in the 1999 World Cup. I really liked the format of the 1999 World Cup. You had to play the big teams in the group stage and then you go onto play the bigger and better teams in the Super Six stage. So by the end of it, you were really the World Champions that Australia became after beating Pakistan.