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Very pleased with the achievement: Ganguly

Special Correspondent

Melbourne: Sourav Ganguly, who is set to play his 100th Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, said he was “professionally very pleased with the achievement”, but that it was “just another Test.”

Listing the milestone among the most memorable moments in his career — his debut and appointment as captain were the others — Ganguly said things had “gone well” for him since his comeback, a period where he has scored 1125 runs from 11 Tests at just under 60.

“Obviously not being captain has taken responsibility away from me,” said the 35-year-old batsman. “It has just coincided with me scoring. When I’m in, I look to make the most of it. It’s a huge difference when I’m not captain. I’ve often finished the day (as captain) feeling tired doing a whole lot of things for the team. You don’t get much time for yourself.”

Better squad

Ganguly said India’s squad was better stocked than the one that toured in 2003-04. “We’ve won in every country over the last six or seven years. Most of the boys in the team have the experience of winning abroad. We probably have a better bowling attack this time and with Dhoni at seven have a deeper batting line-up too. It’s about performing out in the middle, though.

“It all depends on how we play. Last time we came as underdogs and did well. But what we did in 2003 won’t make a difference. I think even the Australians realise — and I’m friends with a few of them — that it’s only the Indian team that has competed with them in the last six years. From that point of view, it makes the series interesting.”

Ganguly, whose brilliant century at Brisbane set the tone in 2003-04, said the key to batting on Australian wickets was adapting quickly.

“International cricket is the same everywhere — fast bowlers hurry you with extra bounce. I heard the (Melbourne) wicket has slowed down, there’ll still be carry for the seamers. Most of these players have been around 12-13 years and have fantastic records. So they’ll expect bounce and pace.”

Facing Shoaib Akhtar in the home series served as good preparation for Australia’s pacemen, said Ganguly. “We just played Akhtar, who’s probably the fastest bowler in the world. And he’s awkward. It will help us in this series. (Brett) Lee is doing well, but I think we’ll do well against him.”

Waugh’s take

Steve Waugh, who Ganguly famously engaged and defeated in a game of brinkmanship in India in 2001, had kind things to say about the left-hander in the local papers.

Was Ganguly surprised, considering the bad blood between the two? “Who said he doesn’t like me?” replied Ganguly, his eyes twinkling.

“Whatever has happened was in an effort to win matches. I’ve said before that he’s one of my role models. He led a tough side, competed hard. He lifted Australian cricket. So it’s nice to know that he said that.”

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