Ready for another scrap

Sourav Ganguly returns as an IPL skipper,with a motley bunch and a point to prove

Written by Bharat Sundaresan | Mumbai | Published: April 6, 2012 12:57:21 am

Sourav Ganguly is coming off a busy season of limited-overs cricket with his Bengal team,but there were a number of giveaways during Pune Warriors’s practice session here on Thursday that keeping up with the strenuous modern-day warm-ups is becoming increasingly arduous for the former India captain.

His impassivity towards the routine pre-match press conference after having sweated it out for close to three hours in the Mumbai heat,therefore,was understandable. Even the team official seemed to empathise when he enquired,“Kya zaroori hai yeh PC? (is this press-conference really necessary?)”

Not for Ganguly. At 39,he clearly had better alternatives than yet another tete-a-tete with the press to recover from the energy-sapping workout on the eve of their opening clash against the Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium. He knows It’s only bizarre fate and Yuvraj Singh’s unforeseen medical condition that have brought him back to the helm of an IPL team. And Ganguly didn’t shy from admitting that he was leading Pune only in the capacity of a stand-in skipper to mainstay Yuvraj,who’s recovering from cancer.

Following a despondent debut season last year,the Pune outfit has undergone considerable transformation,both in terms of playing personnel and support staff — Allan Donald is the bowling coach and Paddy Upton is the mental conditioning coach. Not to forget a drastic change in colours.

Proving a point

But if there is one thing Ganguly loves more than anything else,it is to prove the naysayers wrong. And he couldn’t have got a better team than Pune Warriors,that includes a bunch of players,all out to prove a point or two to themselves and the rest of the cricketing world.

It’s too early to say whether Ganguly can turn around Pune’s fortunes — something he failed to do with the Kolkata Knight Riders — as captain and mentor. But his arsenal includes several men desperately seeking a second coming in their respective careers,and not exactly straight-edged. Especially so,when compared to their well-settled,almost boring opponents on Friday and the galaxy of stars in the Mumbai Indians line-up.

For starters,there is New Zealand’s Jesse Ryder,fresh from his latest drunken indiscretion and accompanied by his manager and clinical psychologist. Marlon Samuels arrived late on Wednesday night and is still recovering from jet-lag — having dealt with his own demons over the last year.

Few cricketers,meanwhile,have attracted injuries as frequently and as freakily as Callum Ferguson who,within 12 months has already undergone a knee reconstruction,a blow to the groin and a broken nose,and is seeking a return to the Australian team. Wayne Parnell,Steve Smith and Luke Wright are all sailing in the same boat,hoping to make this IPL the springboard to return to international cricket.


On top of it all,there’s Ganguly himself,a man who forever has entered the field with more factors lined up against him than in his favour. Experiencing a successful run in the IPL will be the most significant motivating force for the combative Bengali. The underdog tag his team will carry into their clash against Mumbai and for the rest of the season could well be the perfect blessing for Ganguly and his motley crew. They couldn’t have asked for a better leader.

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