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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Batsmen will decide the fate of the tour: Sourav Ganguly

These are testing times for Mahendra Singh Dhoni -- both figuratively and realistically. His first tour overseas as Test captain is to a country where India have always come a cropper.

The last time India crossed the Tasman Sea, they were bludgeoned into submission. The scars are fresh in the memory of many players, ask Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag or even John Wright.

So what can Dhoni do to avoid a similar pummelling from the home team this time round?

"Simple, bat well," says Sourav Ganguly, who led India in that disastrous tour of 2002-03, where India lost the Test series 2-0 and the ODIs 5-2. It is not a suggestion. It is an advice.

Ganguly himself admits the advice is not so simple, after all. "It is not easy to bat well there. But the reality is that batting will decide the fate of the tour. It would require a lot of application, concentration, perfect shot selection..." Ganguly goes on to say.

India's most successful captain ever says the playing conditions will be tough enough although India, unlike in the past, would be playing at the end of the New Zealand season.

"The ball does a lot there. It moves a lot. The pitches are very demanding. So the batsmen will have to cope up a lot." The former captain, however, is confident that Indian batsmen like Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, have the capability to come good on the tour.

Ganguly, who is the in city to judge a reality show for NDTV Imagine, thinks lack of a practice match before the Test series is not the best way to approach it. Particularly for a side that is aspiring to be the No. 1 Test team in the world.

"The Test specialists will have to do a lot of adjustments in a quick time. Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman need to adjust to the conditions fast," he says.

The Bengal player, however, is not worried of team's former coach John Wright's presence in the rival camp. "It is up to the players. The coach's role is just about 10 per cent. So I'm not overtly worried that John would pass on information that can help the New Zealanders."

He, however, admitted that India have a good coach in Gary Kirsten, who has a striking similarity with Wright. "They both are good coaches but eventually it will boil down to the players."

Ganguly felt the next two years will be crucial for India. "The next two years will be important if they want to be the No. 1 side in the world. Currently South Africa look the best and Ricky Ponting's Australia are not far behind Graeme Smith's men," he said.

India, according to him, are just behind South Africa and Australia.

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