Sourav Ganguly speaks on Shikhar Dhawan's form and India's team selection for remaining group matches
Sourav Ganguly, India captain from 1999 to 2005, has put down Shikhar Dhawan’s World Cup turnaround in form to a freeing of the shackles of fear of having to face Australian pace bowlers. Dhawan had managed a combined score of 49 from 4 matches in the tri-series featuring England and Australia immediately preceeding the tournament, but has been one of the brightest spots in India’s propitious World Cup campaign – with a total of 233 runs in 4 group encounters.
The former left-handed opener said about the 29-year-old from Delhi, "I believe Shikhar's success in the World Cup can be attributed to his playing freely. This was not happening earlier during the Australia series.
“Look, the moment you are not playing Australia everytime, you don't have those thoughts at the back of your mind 'Oh I will have to face (Mitchell) Johnson again, oh I will have to face (Mitchell Starc) again'."
Jadeja cannot be dropped: Ganguly
Ganguly was not surprised with the successful start the Indian team have had in the tournament, but picked out the bowling attack for special words of praise. He also gave his reasons why the team should not decide to change the playing combination for the remaining group matches against Ireland and Zimbabwe.
“You don't need to play Australia in Australia everyday during the World Cup. India was always going to do well in the World Cup.
“Indian bowlers have done a splendid job. They have surpassed everyone's expectations. Mohammed Shami has been consistent and Umesh Yadav has been brilliant. It's good to see a bowler hitting 145 kmph consistently.
“Mohit Sharma turned out to be the surprise package in the line-up. The way he has improved with each match is phenomenal.”
India have Stuart Binny, Ambati Rayudu, Axar Patel and Bhuvneshwar Kumar waiting in the ranks, with only Kumar having made an appearance in the World Cup as of yet, as a cover for the injured Shami in the UAE match. Ganguly, however, did not support the notion of giving the reserve options a try-out.
"I don't think there would be any change in the playing XI.
“India are likely to play their quarter-final at Melbourne, and the semi-finals and finals will be held in Sydney and Melbourne respectively. On those tracks, one would need a second spinner and that's the reason Jadeja can't be dropped. And since Jadeja would be needed there, they might as well play him in these two matches.”
South Africa will look to peak at right time: Ganguly
Ganguly was also asked to compare between the current Indian unit to the bunch he had led in 2003 to the final, to be eventually outplayed by an Australian team at the peak of its powers.
"You can't compare teams from two different times. This is a very good team as much as the team of 2003 was a good one. Both teams have good players.”
Ganguly’s team in 2003 had been in similarly woeful form leading up to the World Cup, but had recovered miraculously in the middle of the tournament to go on a winning streak of 8 matches till they faced Ricky Ponting’s men in the title clash.
The former captain also suggested that AB de Villiers’ South Africa would not mind the defeats to Pakistan and India as long as they peak at the right time.
"It is a good thing (to lose early matches). Over the years, South Africa has been a team that has generally been brilliant at the group stages and then losing that crucial quarter-final or semi-final. I think they won't mind losing a few here as long as they win in the knock-out stages.”