Team India discard Ganguly keeps WC dream alive

Published: Tuesday, November 7, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Former India captain Sourav Ganguly said he had not lost hope of playing in next year's World Cup in the Caribbean after returning to form with a century in a domestic tournament.

The 34-year-old reminded national selectors that he had plenty of cricket left in him when he hammered an unbeaten 118 for East Zone against North Zone in a first-class Duleep Trophy match at Guwahati on Monday.

"If God permits, I'll play the World Cup," said Ganguly, who has not played a one-day international since September 2005.

The stylish left-hander was sacked as captain last year and later dropped from the national side following unfavourable comments from coach Greg Chappell, who branded Ganguly a "disrupting influence".

He was also axed from the Test squad after the tour of Pakistan in February despite leading the team for an Indian record of 21 victories.

Ganguly, playing domestic cricket this season in a bid to regain his place, managed to impress one of the selectors watching the match.

"It's just a matter of getting a couple of hundreds and Sourav will be on the plane to South Africa for the Test series," The Times of India on Tuesday quoted the unnamed selector as saying.

Ganguly has already been ignored for this month's one-day series in South Africa, but still hopes to regain a Test berth. The squad for a three-Test series will be named in the first week of December.

After returning from the South African tour in January, India will play four one-day internationals each against Sri Lanka and West Indies at home before leaving for the Caribbean in the last week of February.

"My job is to score runs and the rest is up to the selectors in whom I have a lot of faith," Ganguly told the Hindustan Times.

Former Test captain Dilip Vengsarkar is India's new chief cricket selector, with former left-arm spinner Venkatapathy Raju also joining the five-man panel.

"He (Vengsarkar) is someone who has played a lot of cricket and knows what it takes to compete and perform at the international level," said Ganguly, who has scored 5,221 runs in 88 Tests with 12 centuries.

"He is a former India captain and he knows what would make the best India XI. I have a lot of faith in him."

Ganguly said he was happy to return to big-scores after being under pressure for a long time.

"I was determined to play a big knock. I was under immense pressure to do well, but pressure is something I've faced all my life and I am happy that I came through this test. It was a very important century," he said.

"I always had faith in my abilities and knew it was only a matter of time before I would be back among runs."

Ganguly's knock came just after India had lost eight of their last 12 one-dayers. Rahul Dravid's side were eliminated in the league phase of the recent Champions Trophy at home.


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