Sanath Jayasuriya Interview – ‘Sourav was to India what Arjuna was for us’

Sri Lanka’s champion batsman Jayasuriya pays tribute to former India captain

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Tributes poured in for former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly who finished his international career having played his last Test Match against Australia in Nagpur on Monday.

Ganguly retired having represented his country in 113 Test Matches and 311 One-Day Internationals, where he made over 7000 runs in Tests and more than 11,000 runs in ODIs.

Former Sri Lanka captain and current chairman of the board Arjuna Ranatunga said that Ganguly will be remembered as a fighter and will be missed.

“He took over the Indian team at a difficult period and I have always admired him. Everyone didn’t like everything that he did, but he had his own way and succeeded and I have full admiration for the bloke,” Ranatunga said.

“Probably the presence of too many stars undervalued his contribution to the Indian team, but make no mistake, he will be missed,” Ranatunga added.

“When you announce that you are retiring at the start of the series there’s so much of pressure on you. Especially, the Australians let you know that you are on your way out. It would have been tough for many other players, but Sourav seemed to have relished the challenge. His hundred in Mohali set the game up for India and then in Nagpur, I thought he deserved the hundred. But nevertheless, knowing Ganguly, he wouldn’t worry much as India won the Test,” Ranatunga said.

Ganguly had made his debut for India in 1992, in a One-Day International against West Indies in Brisbane, but then was not considered for the national team for four more years and there were speculations about his attitude. He was recalled for India’s tour of England in 1996 and was an instant success as he scored a hundred on debut at Lord’s.

“I remember we played him at home in Test series early part of his career and he was struggling a bit as there were high expectations of him after making those back to back hundred in England. We were at the receiving end as he scored something like 145 in Colombo and then a few months later hit two big hundreds when we toured India and I remember him being dismissed for 99 in one of the Tests in that series. He had hit a purple patch and unfortunately I was the opposition captain,” Ranatunga added.

Sri Lankan opener Sanath Jayasuriya has reasons to remember Ganguly for the rest of his life as it was the Bengali who took the catch to dismissing the Sri Lankan when he was marching to Brian Lara’s then World Record of 375 when he made 340 against India at R. Premadasa Stadium in 1997.

“I haven’t thought about it in that way, but Sourav was a tough cricketer. He was to India what Arjuna was for us. He will be remembered for captaining the team for an unlikely victory against the Australians in 2001 in a highly hyped up series. No one gave India a chance, but things turned dramatically midway through the series. V.V.S. Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Harbhajan Singh may have played their parts, but I am sure the inspiration would have come from the captain. If the captain gives up, there’s not much of hope for the team. Sourav never gave up,” Jayasuriya said

“As a team, we rated him pretty highly. I wonder whether there was a better player who excelled in off-side play than Sourav. He was mentally tough too and as captain his greatest contribution was to believe in the young players who came into the team when he was leading the side.”
“Yuvraj, Sehwag, Zaheer and even Harbhajan came in when he was the captain and he provided them with regular opportunities. When the players know that their captain is backing them they become confident and you can just see what these guys have achieved for India,” Jayasuriya added.


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