Ganguly defends bowlers, attacks pitch

Published: Monday, October 13, 2003, 1:47 [IST]
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Ahmedabad: Indian captain Sourav Ganguly on Sunday backed his bowlers and blamed the "placid Motera track" instead for his side's failure to force a win against New Zealand in the first cricket Test in Ahmedabad. India, who had set a victory target of 370, failed to dismiss New Zealand in their second innings despite more than three sessions of play at hand, as the Kiwis came up with a determined batting effort to salvage a draw on the fifth and final day.

"The bowlers did pretty well on a placid track. There was no turn to help the bowlers to pick wickets," Ganguly told reporters after the match. The Indian captain was also full of praise for debutant pacer L Balaji who could manage only one wicket in the match. "For a debutant, he bowled magnificently on a dead wicket which hardly had any movement in the air. It was a lion-hearted performance by the youngster." Ganguly also dismissed the suggestion that his side was under pressure after failing to win the Test, seen as a grudge match after India's abject humiliation at the hands of the Kiwis in the two-Test away series late last year.

The second and final Test would be played at Mohali from Thursday. "We are under no pressure absoultely. Mohali wicket is totally different and it always helps the seamers," he said. "Now our aim is to play well at Mohali and win the series." Ganguly declined to divulge his plans for the second Test though he hinted at including Ajit Agarkar, who made it to the side in place of an injured Avishkar Salvi, in the playing XI. "May be this is a blessing in disguise to have Agarkar in the side in place of an injured Salvi," he said.

"Our top batsmen are in fine form. But after taking a look at the wicket (in Mohali) we will decide whether to stick with four bowlers or go to the match with five." When asked whether the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should consult the captain and the coach before preparing wickets for international matches, Ganguly said, "it is their discretion and I can't say much on that." <

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