Selectors retain Ganguly as skipper for SA tour
Published: Thursday, September 6, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
Selectors may keep faith in Ganguly for SA tour
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Bombay: Saurav Ganguly was on Thursday retained as India's captain for the upcoming cricket tour of South Africa despite his average overseas record in recent months. "It was a unanimous decision by the selectors to pick Ganguly as the skipper for the tour. The selectors took just five minutes to name Ganguly as there was no other name discussed," Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Jaywant Lele told reporters. Chairman of selectors Chandu Borde defended his choice, saying Ganguly had a decent Test record and had led India to four One-day tournament finals. "We thought we should give him a chance to lead in South Africa," he said. "He did a pretty good job in Sri Lanka with a young side. As many senior players were out due to injuries, we thought we should continue with him on this tough tour." The 29-year-old, however, will lead a full strength side this time as Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, V V S Laxman and Ashish Nehra have declared themselves fit for the 66-day tour starting later this month. The selectors will meet again on Friday to pick the team for the Limited Overs tri- series against South Africa and Kenya. The team for the three Tests against South Africa in November will be finalised later. Ganguly has so far led the country in 11 Tests, winning six, losing four and drawing one since taking over the captaincy from Tendulkar last year. His away record, however, is not encouraging as his team drew a Test series 1-1 against none-too-formidable Zimbabwe in June and then lost 1-2 to Sri Lanka last week. He now faces his toughest test as captain in South Africa, where his predecessors, Mohammed Azharuddin (1992-93) and Tendulkar (1996-97), failed to win a Test match on the previous two tours. Even Indian coach John Wright conceded that the tour would be a lot tougher than the recent ones against Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka. "They (South Africa) are a very formidable team," the New Zealander said. "It will be a very tough series .. a lot tougher than the two we just had. We have to go there with a positive and right attitude." Ganguly's team failed to live up to expectations in Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka as India remained without a Test series win outside the sub-continent in 16 years. Kapil Dev was the last captain to lead India to a Test series win abroad, way back in 1986 against England. Ganguly is only the third Indian captain after Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi and Bishan Bedi to win three away Tests when his side won matches in Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka. In 45 One-dayers as captain, Ganguly has won 23 matches and lost 22.