Maintain low profile, Azhar advice to battered Saurav

Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Kolkata: Former national skipper Mohammed Azharuddin has suggested that Saurav Ganguly should not speak more than 'absolutely necessary' for the time being, while differing with the Indian team management for asking Rahul Dravid to appeal to irate fans at home following the defeat against Australia in the World Cup. The stylish ex-Hyderabad right-hander advised Ganguly to 'maintain a low profile' for the time being. "Don't talk more than what is absolutely necessary. It's not the time for talk, but action.

There is a saying - only action counts. This is the apt moment for it," Azharuddin said in a column in Bengali daily on Wednesday. He was also very critical of the manner in which a section of fans vent their anger at the side's poor show in the World Cup. He described such protests as 'very unfortunate'. "Do these people understand the nitty gritties of cricket? I think they don't. They'll never realise how much mental agony a player in a losing side undergoes. "Who are they? Are they citizens of India?" Azharuddin asked in scornful dismissal of those who attacked Mohammed Kaif's house, burnt effigies of players and brought out 'funeral processions' of the side.

Referring to Dravid pleading with supporters to repose more faith in the team after the Australia debacle, Azhar said, "I don't know what went through the Indian team management's mind when it asked the batsman to hold a media conference. But I feel that there was no need for it." Azhar was unhappy for Ganguly's remarks after the Australia match that Indians had done everything right except score runs. "I thought he was not talking sense. What does he mean by saying that the side had done everything right except scoring? Isn't scoring runs the most important thing," he asked. "But I later understood that Saurav must have said this under tremendous pressure. The Indian cricket skipper is always in the hot seat.

Few people know more than me how hot it is," Azhar, who captained Indian in three World Cups in 1991, 1996 and 1999, said. He was of the view that Ganguly should have merely said that his side lost because it played badly and promised to put up a better performance in the next match. On Ganguly's continuing poor run with the bat, Azhar said the Indian skipper should devote more time at the nets and work harder. "Don't bother with whatever is happening in the country.

You (Ganguly) have gone through many crests and troughs in your career. You have seen the darker side of life more than many others and come out of the rut time and again," he said. Azhar also asked Ganguly to take heart from the display of new Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming, who ended his lean patch with a match-winning 134 not out against formidable South Africa. "He almost single-handedly fashioned a victory for the Black Caps. And the world knows that Ganguly any day is a better batsman than Fleming," he said.

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