Johannesburg: Slamming an "irresponsible" Saurav Ganguly for India's humiliating World Cup loss against Australia, cricket legend Imran Khan said the Indian captain should follow the example of Steve Waugh and learn how to pull the team out of the woods. "The captain should be leading by example, especially when the team is low on confidence," the cricketer-turned politician said. "But you cannot describe the way Ganguly batted as a captain.
It was a very irresponsible shot he played to get out. How can he expect the rest of his team to fight against the Aussies when he plays like that?" asked Imran, who led Pakistan to its only World Cup title in 1992 in Australia. Indian batsmen, who struggled against Holland in its first match, could manage only 125 against Australia on Saturday, which the world champions overtook in less than 23 overs losing only one wicket. "If you look at the 1999 World Cup, it belonged to Australia captain Steve Waugh. He lifted the spirits of the team whenever his country needed a big score from him...
Ganguly needs to follow Waugh's example," Imran said on BBC 'Online'. He said despite being familiar with the South African conditions, Indian players were struggling to put up a fight as their morale was down. "The problem with India right now is low morale. There is absolutely no self belief. They are still suffering from their devastating Test and One-day defeats in New Zealand." "Many of the players are familiar with the South African conditions and really there should be no excuses for a batting performance like that," Imran said. Meanwhile, the India also drew criticism from the local media which urged the team to "play with resolve" in the remaining matches.
The Johannesburg-based 'Sunday Times' said in a report that teams like India would have to play with more resolve if it hopes to do well in the World Cup. "...the only thing that Ganguly did right all day was to win the toss. He decided to bat on a typically bouncy Centurion pitch," the paper said. "Ganguly may be out of form but wild slogging against bowlers of the calibre of McGrath and Lee is no way to end a slump. What was required was old-fashioned back- bone and a steely determination to see off the threat of the new ball."
Majority in the crowd supported the Indian team but they were let down by loose shots from Ganguly, Sehwag and even Sachin Tendulkar. "On this dire day for Indian cricket, the greatest batsman of the age was unable to take control of the innings." Radio and TV commentators were also critical of India's performance with a radio reporter saying "Indians played like palugaas (local term for useless idiots). "The Indian performance was pathetic and they are not doing much to excite their supporters," he said in his report for a local radio station."