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Ganguly, Wright sound optimistic

Indian cricket team captain Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and coach John Wright at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai prior to the team's departure.

Indian cricket team captain Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and coach John Wright at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai prior to the team's departure.  

Mumbai Jan. 28. The Indian team that is preparing to make a quiet departure for the World Cup in South Africa later today, took part in a noble campaign, with captain Sourav Ganguly playing the leading role in the UNICEF sponsored `bowl out' programme, intended to eradicate polio.

The team then went through another round of dope tests, before Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, coach John Wright and a team of BCCI officials took positions at the head table at the Crystal Room, Taj Mahal Hotel.

Both Ganguly and Wright were forthright in their views. They did not talk about the team's potential or make promises. Their remarks were reserved and measured. Wright described the 2-0 loss in the Test series and 5-2 loss in the one-day series in New Zealand as `not acceptable'. He said that the conditions in New Zealand were unique and that it was an unfortunate event for the Indian team.

"We have to play with courage, common sense and passion in South Africa to make headway in the World Cup. We owe it to the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the Indian public." Turning his attention to the World Cup matches in South Africa, Wright felt that India had the advantage of having played a full series in South Africa just 16 months ago.

"It was my first visit to South Africa and I was impressed and encouraged by the way Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid shaped as batsmen and scored runs in the one-day series. We lost the Test series, but we batted well in the StanBank series. Some players visited South Africa with the `A' team and scored runs. Ganguly and Tendulkar scored centuries against South Africa at the Wanderers and batted well against them at East London. They even beat South Africa at Centurion. These are plus points for the team. Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra are stronger lads now."

Ganguly said the seven-batsman formula had worked well in England in the NatWest Trophy, the ICC Champions Trophy and the home series against the West Indies. He did not believe that the batting order would be tinkered with.

"I will go by the established and settled order, but would be influenced by the way we perform in the warm up matches."

Both said they were looking forward to the tournament. "I, like everyone else, will be disappointed should we fail to qualify for the Super 6. The critical matches will be played in the end. There will be pressure on all the teams. We lost the momentum in New Zealand, but the World Cup is a different stage altogether and we will be really up there once we make the Super 6. It will be a confidence booster to fight hard for the semifinals," concluded Wright.

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