SPORT

We need to relax once in a while: Ganguly

Sourav Ganguly and wife Dona watch daughter Sana open gifts presented by Santa Claus on the eve of Christmas. — Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Sourav Ganguly and wife Dona watch daughter Sana open gifts presented by Santa Claus on the eve of Christmas. — Photo: V.V. Krishnan  

MELBOURNE Dec. 24. It is a tale of two captains — one on his final lap and the other on the threshold of making history. One has seen it all and conquered all. The other has a long way to go. This Test means so much for Steve Waugh and Sourav Ganguly.

"I'm just looking forward to the game. It's not as much about my last game in MCG. It's about the importance of this game,'' declared Waugh.

Ganguly agreed, "It's an important stage no doubt. We have the lead and it's a nice feeling to have on the eve of a big game. It's the confidence of the players that I value in such situations and I must say that the players are all keen to have a go.''

The canny Waugh was candid to admit, "There's no doubt we're not used to trailing in the series. It's a great challenge. It's a great opportunity for the side to show what it is made of. There's a lot being said about our great bowlers not being there. So there's opportunity for others to put their hands up. We're not far off. At Adelaide we dropped a couple of catches, suffered two bad sessions. So we know we're not far off the mark.''

Ganguly said, "The key will be batting well for both the sides. The side that bats well will win. The boys needed rest to recoup for this match. You're never relaxed before the Test match. It may look different on surface but the boys do work hard. We have our fitness sessions, `nets', and then there're times when you need to switch off. You need to relax once in a while.''

Waugh was confronted with a query on the decline of Aussie power. "We've heard about it for a number of years. Quite a few coaches in the past have said that. We can best that view in the next two Tests and it doesn't matter whether we're number one or not,'' he shot back.

Observed Ganguly, "When two teams play, there is pressure on both of them. In international cricket you play to win. We're just a little ahead by winning the Adelaide Test but there're two more Tests to go and anything can happen in this series. It's not unfamiliar for us to be one up in the series. We've done it before in the West Indies and Zimbabwe. So it's not a new situation but we need to carry on from here. I think there's pressure on both the teams, I don't think he is fair in saying that the pressure is on us. I think we both know the pressure is on both sides.''

On tackling the Indians in this Test, Waugh said, "We've to do something a little bit differently but not radically. You can't change too much the way you play in Test matches. Intensity is the key for us. We know if we keep pressure on the opposition we can force them to commit mistakes.''

Waugh also dealt with the situation created by the stinging criticism of the team by coach John Buchanan through a letter addressed to each player. "He's part and parcel of the squad. There is no problem here. He's entitled to what he is saying. We don't have to agree with it. That's the coach's job to make observations and challenge the side. It doesn't necessarily mean they're true. There was a lot of stuff written in the letter which was not necessarily right. But we talked about it and everything is fine.''

The India skipper said Zaheer Khan was fit for the match. "He's fit for the Test. He has done well for us in the last one and a half year and with experience will be an asset.''

Ganguly also dismissed any concerns surrounding the form of Sachin Tendulkar. "I can't remember Sachin going through a series without putting up a big score. Since the time I've played with him I can't remember one such tour. And it's good for us because these are the two crucial Test matches. If he fires we would definitely be in a very good position.''

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