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Saturday, April 13 2024

Sehwag did not know he existed off the field: Ganguly

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Kolkata: On the field, he rates Virender Sehwag as the best opener India has ever had in Tests after Sunil Gavaskar. But off it, former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly feels the Delhi dasher did not know he existed.

“I am a very laid back person. But when I became captain in 2000, I realised that this team had to do things differently. As Indians, we were pretty laid back,” Ganguly said while speaking at the India Today Conclave East 2017 here on Friday.

“I had Sehwag in the team, who after Sunil Gavaskar is probably the best opener I have seen. But as a person off the field, he didn’t know he existed. He would sleep, you had to push him to get going before a Test match,” he added.

When Ganguly took over as the captain, Indian cricket was reeling from match-fixing allegations levelled against some of the players.

One of the key aspects of his captaincy off the field was how he made the Indian team a tougher unit.

Under him, India improved their overseas record by winning more Test matches and series on foreign soil.

In the 49 matches he was captain, India won 21 and lost only 13. It was the all-time captaincy record for India before MS Dhoni overtook Ganguly as the most successful Test skipper.

In 2003, Ganguly also led India to the final of the ICC World Cup where they lost to Ricky Ponting’s Australia.

“The first thing I saw when India played Australia in 2001, it was a different side when they were up and ready, they were fighting. So as a captain, as a leader I had to get that atmosphere going on the ground and it had to start from me,” Ganguly said reflecting back on the days when the Indians were not known for being the fittest of players.

On a different note, Ganguly said team selection is a lot more transparent now compared to the days he played.

“Selection is transparent now. When you see Indian cricket now and how honest and passionate Virat Kohli is you know it is transparent. Cricket is a captain’s game,” he said.

“He looks after his players. Everyone will make mistakes and that’s acceptable. You can see the result the way the team has gone forward. when I started in 1996, it was different cricket. This game is only going to get bigger.

“In my first Ranji Trophy game I got only Rs 400. First Test series was Rs 30,000 for a four-month trip. Now it has gone many many folds up and that’s how it should be,” he said.

Wife Dona, who was sitting beside him all the while, dropped ‘home’ secrets.

“He rules the roost when he is at home but in a nice, subtle way. He is so busy that he rarely is at home. So that much liberty he can take,” Dona said.

The foodie that Ganguly is, Dona added that it is difficult for him to stay fit post-playing days as he gorges on biryani.

“He loves his food and it is difficult for him to stay fit but he tries,” she said.

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