Disappointed Kolkata fans hope local boy regains form

Published: Thursday, February 13, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Kolkata: With Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly's poor run of form spilling over to the World Cup, disappointed Kolkatans were hoping that the local boy would regain his lost touch in the next outing against Australia. Having kept aside all work to witness the much-loved 'dada', the first city boy to lead the country in cricket's top event, in action with the willow, the sports aficionados were on Thursday engaged in animated conversation about the reasons behind the marathon drought of runs from Ganguly's blade.

The southpaw's miserly eight in India's lung opener against minnows Holland on Wednesday follows his dismal total of 58 from seven One-day innings in New Zealand in December-January at a woeful average of 8.28. Suggestions ranging from Ganguly dropping down the batting order to changing his bat flowed as commuters, both young and old, made their way to their workplace or educational institutions.

"I took a half day's leave to see the match at home. But I was shocked by his tentative batting against such a weak team. I was apprehensive of the worst, which came soon," said Dilip Sinha, a government employee. "He seems to be lacking in confidence. It will be better if he comes lower down at number three or four allowing the swashbuckling Virender Sehwag and master batsman Sachin Tendulkar to open the innings," said Tulsi Prasad Dutta, a young chartered accountant.

At Behala, where Ganguly resides, the locals were trying to put up a brave front. "Nobody can question his talent. He will soon start scoring runs, as he did against the Caribbeans last year," said the owner of a sweet meat shop near Ganguly's residence. The dashing left-hander had notched up 237 runs from five matches with an average of 47.4 in that One-day series on home soil. A wave of euphoria has been sweeping this sports-crazy city since the count-down to the World Cup began, and much of it may be linked to Ganguly's leadership status.

People have offered prayers at temples, conducted yajnas, and sent goodwill messages aplenty to the 'prince of Kolkata'. Even terminally ill cancer patients have sent a good luck bat to Ganguly. But the most interesting suggestion came from a school student, Rajiv Dey. "I think Ganguly's problems stem from the bat he is using. He should use a heavier bat."

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