Batters, be good!, says Sourav Ganguly

India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had high hopes of his World No 1 side in the one-day series against South Africa. Before leaving Indian shores, he said, “ODIs would be good to get used to the pace and bounce before the Test series”.

MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni

Looking at the way the Indian batsmen struggled to stand up to Dale Steyn & Co in the ODIs, the captain’s worries would have increased manifold. The visitors lost the series 0-2 with the third game being washed out.

The Indian think-tank would have banked on the only practice game before the much-awaited two-Test series kicks off on Wednesday for vital adjustments. But that too got washed away.

Surely, not an ideal way for India to go into the Test series, felt former India skipper Sourav Ganguly. “It is a big concern. You want as much practice before going into the Tests.

It will be tough for the batsmen to adjust. I just hope they play well,” Ganguly said at the Wankhede Stadium where he was shooting for a television show.

Rohit’s right, but…
During the ODI series, Rohit Sharma noted that shot execution needs improvement. “That’s right. What Rohit said is exactly the thing they need to work on. But where is the time? You cannot go to South Africa with just two-three days’ time in hand (before a series).

South Africa are a very good side,” said Ganguly, who scored a patient 51 on his comeback to the Test team in 2006 at Johannesburg — the venue of the first Test. Ganguly’s half-century helped India achieve their first ever Test win on South African soil.

Sourav Ganguly
Sourav Ganguly during his comeback Test at Johannesburg in 2006

Ganguly, who led India on the 2001-02 tour there, is not ruling out the Indian team’s chances to bounce back. “I don’t want to be too negative,” he said. “This team has the ability to do well, but having ability and doing well are two different things.

We have talented batsmen. They need to adjust quickly to the conditions now. They have to play according to the situation. It is a new series. The past will have no  bearing.”

He stressed on the need for the batsmen to strike it rich. “The reason we (Ganguly’s team) did well overseas was because the batters scored runs.

We could win in England and Pakistan because we put up more than 500 runs on the board. Anil Kumble would always say ‘you put runs on the board and I will win you the Test’. That still does not change.

“So, R Ashwin has to bowl tighter and let the pacers take the wickets from the other end. Zaheer Khan’s inclusion will strengthen the attack. Mohammed Shami is the find for India this season.

Indian players
Indian players celebrate after winning the second Test match at Durban on their last tour to South Africa in 2010. Pics/Getty Images

Ideally, I would like to see Zak, Shami and Ishant for the first Test. I would not rule out Umesh Yadav as well because of his pace,” said Ganguly.

This will be the first Test since the legendary Sachin Tendulkar retired last month. “Yeah, it will be a huge void. But Tendulkar can’t play forever. We have to learn to play without him now.

Tendulkar became Tendulkar after 20 years. You can’t expect these youngsters to play like Tendulkar. I am sure the boys will stand up.

The batsmen have to put up a good show. They have to score more than 400 runs in every Test to stand a chance to win,” Ganguly signed off.

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