Ahmedabad: Skipper Sourav Ganguly on Thursday put his deputy on the elite pedestal calling him one of the game's greats in the modern era after Rahul Dravid put India in command with a masterly 222. "Even before this knock I have always believed that Rahul is one of the greats. He is a fine player and to have scored 15 centuries from 70 Tests is no mean feat," Ganguly said after India cornered New Zealand by first amassing 500 for five declared and then reducing the visitors to 41 for three.
"Apart from that he has so many thousands of runs and his records speak for themselves and it was a pleasure to bat with him," said Ganguly who remained unbeaten on 100. On fast bowler Zaheer Khan's fine opening spell (3 for16) that rattled the visitors, the skipper said the Baroda speedster has improved a lot in the last 18 months. "He is a very changed bowler in the last year and half. He has become much fitter and stronger after training under Adrian le Roux and now under Greg King. He has been an outstanding bowler for some time now."
"I am now looking forward to Javagal Srinath's decision on the forthcoming tour to Australia as experience counts a lot," he said. Ganguly said it is always a plus to start the season with a hundred. "It is always good to score runs especially and to get a hundred at the start of the season in very satisfying." Ganguly also confirmed that V V S Laxman coming in ahead of him in the middle order was no strategic move.
"I was not fit and was suffering from groin pain and I could not have batted on yesterday. Even today, I was feeling a bit uncomfortable initially but played on. I am happy I could do well," he said. Commenting about the warning he received from the two umpires David Shepherd and Rudi Koertzen for running on the wicket, Ganguly put his hands up saying it was not intentional. "Running on the wicket was not intentional. The umpires warned me once and I must have done it again as they warned again," he said. "I agree they are the boss on the field."
"They told me that they will be deducting two runs after I ran on the wicket for the second time and I think they are the ones who make the decisions," Ganguly said accepting the punishment. The Kolkatan, who is just one win short of joining Mohammed Azharuddin as India's most successful Test skipper, said it is nice to dictate terms from the second day itself. "It is good to be on top at the end of the second day itself. I believe we are finally playing a fair cricket with us in a very good position." "We are really pleased with the position we are in and I feel winning the toss was a decisive factor," he said.