London: India's captain Saurav Ganguly returns to his happy hunting ground with a fresh resolve to do wonders again for his side when it takes on England in its first match of the Natwest triangular series at the historic Lord's Ground on Saturday. "Whenever I have played here I have done well," said Ganguly on the eve of the One- dayer.
"It was so when I played my debut Test and then the MCC vs Rest of the World game in 1998." Ganguly smashed a brilliant hundred in his debut Test in front of packed galleries of Lord's in 1996. "The run up to the triangular series has been good. The seamers have bowled well and even Anil Kumble has been very impressive," he said. Medium pacers Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan picked up four wickets each in the first two practice games against Sussex and Kent and Kumble had a spell of 2 for 28 from his 10 overs in the game against Kent. Ganguly was also not daunted by England's facile win against Sri Lanka in the tournament opener at Trent Bridge on Thursday.
"They played well and are obviously an improved side. It should be a good game on Saturday." England defeated Sri Lanka by 44 runs in the tournament opener at Trent Bridge with man-of-the-match Andrew Flintoff smashing the fastest 50 ever for an England batsman, a half century from just 28 balls and then took 3 for 48. "Flintoff has obviously been in good nick," Ganguly said. "But it depends on how you play on a particular day." Ganguly was reluctant to name his XI and left the option open for both the specialist spinners Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh. "The wicket has not been watered for a week now, so we would have to see it on Saturday to make a decision," he said.
The skipper was delighted with the way the youngsters in the side were shaping up for the World Cup in South Africa next year. "Dinesh Mongia, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif are shaping up well and have lifted the fielding standards of the side appreciably," he said. "This is an important tournament and in six months time, after tournaments here and in New Zealand (December-January, 2003) we would know how much progress has been made," said Ganguly. The left-handed bat was not too concerned about the inexperience of his three medium- pacers in conditions as alien as England and felt they have done well in recent times.
"Nehra and Zaheer did very well in the West Indies and I am not anxious about them," said Ganguly. Coach John Wright said it was unusually good for his side to have three practice games played before the start of a tour, as has been the case this time. "We had a good opportunity to practice and enjoyed it in the last week," said Wright. The coach was also confident of a good showing from the Indians. "These boys play attractive cricket and there are quite a few exciting youngsters... How much they have progressed we would know by the end of the tour," he said.