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`I have fond memories of 1983`
Willow Talk : Sourav Ganguly

Sourav Ganguly What were you doing when India won the World Cup in 1983?

Sourav: I was ten years old then. I have fond memories of that night. We watched the match on TV and took to the streets after we won the final. I remember running along the streets, tricolour in hand, along with the others. It was a night to remember, really.

You have played in two World Cups – 1999 and 2003. Which one was better?

Sourav: Definitely the 2003 World Cup. We played great cricket to reach the final. Nine consecutive wins isn’t something you can forget. We did not play that well in 1999, failing to go beyond the Super Six stage. So, 2003 was miles ahead.

You scored 97 on your World Cup debut against South Africa at Hove. That match was marked by an ‘earpiece’ incident...

Sourav: Yes, I remember that game. Hansie Cronje was wearing an earpiece while fielding. I had seen him talk at the start of our innings, and thought that he was conversing with his fielders. When I was 50-60, I watched him carefully, and realised that he was talking to himself. I didn’t think the laws permitted players to wear earpieces. So I brought it to the umpires’ notice.

You narrowly missed a hundred. It would have been a great World Cup debut had you scored three more runs.

Sourav: True. It was just that this man called Jonty Rhodes decided to play spoilsport! His throw was bang on target. It would have been wonderful to score a century. But then, that is life!

Your 183 against Sri Lanka at Taunton is the highest individual innings by an Indian in the World Cup. Read moreread more
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Sourav: That was a crucial game for us, as we needed to win to qualify for the Super Six stage. We had lost our first two matches against South Africa and Zimbabwe, and needed to win our remaining three matches to stay in the tournament. We beat Kenya in the first of those games and took on the then defending champions at Taunton. I was happy to contribute to a critical win. It took me some time to settle down, but thereafter, it was fantastic. Every cricketer experiences these special days, wherein he finds it easy to do whatever he wants with the bat or ball. That was my day.

You must have pleasant memories of the 2003 World Cup.

Sourav: Several pleasant memories. We won nine consecutive matches to reach the final. The practice sessions and team-meetings were great fun. It was like a family working out there. There was John Wright, our coach, a nice man. We had a great relationship for five years. Really a great experience, except the final!

What went wrong on the big day?

Sourav: I really do not know. Perhaps we could not handle the pressure of a big final, we got over-excited. It wasn’t the first time we had meekly surrendered in a tournament final. I haven’t been able to find out what happened to us whenever we played the final of a tournament. Our efforts of the previous two months, our plans, performances……..everything went into the dustbin with that loss. The defeat remains hard to digest.

The Australians are the favourites to win the 2007 World Cup. What is so special about them?

Sourav: They have an array of match-winners. You ask any player, and he will do it for the team. Ponting, Gilchrist, Hayden and Hussey can shut you out of the match with their rapid-scoring. They also have a match-winning bowler like Glenn McGrath. They field superbly and rarely miss a run-out opportunity or floor a catch. And they have the experience of winning big matches as well. You have to be at the top of our game to beat them.

What about our chances in the 2007 World Cup?

Sourav: We have a good team with the right blend of experience, youth and talent. I think we have the resources to go to the last lap.

(An exclusive feature for Sify from PMG)
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