Lara, Dravid praise comeback king Ganguly

Published: Monday, January 22, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Nagpur:Indian opener Saurav Ganguly's match-winning effort on his return to the one-day arena after a 16-month hiatus elicited praise from both the West Indies captain Brian Lara and the home skipper Rahul Dravid.

The 34-year-old left-hander struck a sparkling 98 on Sunday to help his side register a 14-run victory against the visitors in the first one-day match of the four-game series.

"He's a player of high class and you expect performances like that from him," Lara told a news conference.

"We know he's eager to get back and you got to give him all the credit. He's mentally strong and to come back and do well shows he's very capable.

"Batting out there he showed how eager he is. But unfortunately Ganguly didn't get a hundred."

Ganguly was run out by Dwayne Smith with a direct hit from short mid-wicket.

Ganguly returned to the one-day side on the strength of his performances in the Test series in South Africa where he was the most successful Indian batsman with 214 runs.

It marked a tremendous comeback for the Kolkata batsman after the selectors appeared to have called time on his career when they sacked him as skipper and one-day player in October 2005 because of a batting slump and a row with coach Greg Chappell.

Dravid spoke highly of the openers Ganguly and Gautam Gambhir, who laid the platform for a commanding total with a 144-run stand.

"(It was a) very good innings. Both (were) coming back after long time. A great sign. (They) stayed at the wicket."

India's win ended a six-match losing streak. It was also only their second victory over West Indies in eight meetings.

West Indian opener Shivnarine Chanderpaul hit a defiant 149 not out but West Indies were restricted to 324 for eight in reply.

"It was a good match. India played really good. I think our guys also played really well, Chanderpaul especially," Lara said. "We will look to improve in a few areas before the next match."

The second game in the four-match series is in Cuttack on Wednesday.


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