According to Sourav Ganguly, his former India teammate has had a major role to play in the development of India’s bench strength.
In recent times, players like Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur have stepped up for the team and delivered in the absence of seniors. In an interview with India Today, Sourav Ganguly said about Dravid:
“I always say that Rahul Dravid has done a great job at the NCA (in Bangalore) as he looks after the second-string players. Mohammed Siraj, you know I see a lot of talent in him, Shardul Thakur every time they have got opportunities they have just stood up."
Speaking about how fringe players raised their game in Australia, the 48-year-old pointed out how Siraj and Thakur played a major role in India’s historic win Down Under. Sourav Ganguly stated:
“We spoke about Bumrah for all of last year, but India wins without him as well. In Australia the last Test match, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, no Ishant Sharma in the squad, and you beat Australia in Australia. That's remarkable.”
Siraj also impressed in the Test series against England at home, delivering key wickets even as the spin duo of Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin dominated proceedings.
Had Pant stayed on for 5-6 overs, India could have won the Sydney Test: Sourav Ganguly
The former India captain, who nurtured a generation of match-winners in Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and Virender Sehwag among others, was also highly pleased with Rishabh Pant’s development.
The 23-year-old wicketkeeper batsman was the third highest run-getter in the recently-concluded India-England Tests, scoring 270 runs in six innings at an average of 54.
The highlight of the series was his match-turning hundred in the fourth Test in Ahmedabad, with India in trouble. Terming Pant a match-winner, Ganguly said:
"I have seen Pant very closely and I believe in match-winners. When they get going on their day, they single-handedly can win matches. Rishabh Pant is such a player. I have also said this in the past, had he stayed at the crease for 5 or 6 overs, India could have won the Sydney Test. He is a game-changer. I like match-winners. In my time, we had Sehwag, Yuvraj, Dhoni.”
Speaking specifically about his knock in Ahmedabad, Sourav Ganguly added:
"Look at the way he played against England. India were 146 for 6 (in the 4th Test in Ahmedabad). The match could have gone anyway. He turned it around with his knock. Look at his game sense. The second new ball came in. His counterattack against Anderson was brilliant."
In the interview, Sourav Ganguly also informed that the India-New Zealand World Test Championship (WTC) final will be played in Southampton instead of Lord’s.