The word dada in Bengali means elder brother or someone like him. Former Indian captain Saurav Ganguly, arguably one of the finest cricketers to have graced the Indian cricket scenario, was known in his day for having an eye for talent and backing it to the hilt. He fostered the careers of many young guns in his time such as Harbhajan, Zaheer, Sehwag, Yuvraj and Kaif. It still seems that he feels that the first 4, who were among the major contributors of the Indian team’s victorious 2011 World Cup campaign and many other moments of glory, still have it in them to stage a comeback to the Indian team.
While speaking to Star Cricket, Ganguly stated that the 4 along with Gautam Gambhir can still mount a comeback to the Indian team but they needed to have that hunger to succeed. The landscape of the Indian team has changed a lot these days with young players like Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja performing exceptionally and players such as Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin and Suresh Raina finding their feet more often than not. In such a context it seems highly unlikely that any of the players backed by Ganguly will be back anytime soon.
Ganguly feels that it is hard to rule out a player completely from a team. He reasons that a couple of years back these players were indispensable but now they are almost nowhere on the radar. He also feels that the quality of these players is exceptional. Sehwag indeed has been one of the most successful openers in world cricket and Zaheer is highly regarded as a left arm seam and swing bowler. Yuvraj, too, has been a key contributor in the limited overs scene for the national team. The former Indian skipper feels that with the right amount of hard work, training and fitness they should be back in the Indian team before long. Ganguly has also hinted that these players would be itching to perform better than how they have already fared.
The ex-cricketer, also referred to as Bengal Tiger, feels that Gambhir has made the right decision to play at Essex. He opines that at the present moment the Delhi batsman should try and play as many matches as possible so that he can find some form. Ganguly reasons that he is only around 30 years old now which means that he has a good 10 years’ cricket left in him.
In fact, of the lot mentioned above, Gambhir looks the only one who can mount a comeback in the near future in the opening spot. Murali Vijay, at the moment, is the weakest spot in the Indian batting line up and may need to step down once the runs dry up. However, even in that scenario there is a possibility that Pujara may be asked to open. It may also be tough for him to get a look-in in the middle order. I have a feeling both Dhoni and Fletcher want Raina and Rohit in that position. Both of them have, in fact, been scoring runs in heaps in the ongoing India ‘A’ tour of South Africa and that could count against Gambhir. Fletcher has also been to South Africa and is taking a special interest in Raina thus, clearly grooming him for a spot in the middle order in tests once Tendulkar calls it a day.
Regarding the others, I don’t think Harbhajan expects to make a comeback since his domestic form has not been anything exceptional and no one knows what to expect from Sehwag. As far as Zaheer and Yuvraj are concerned their replacements are here and perhaps they may have dealt their last hands, at least in the international arena.
Change is the nature of the game and perhaps these professionals will accept that as of now their international days may be behind them. However, these champions have had a hell of a journey and the cricket loving people of the country are proud of their achievements. Perhaps with the IPL they will be assured of a secure financial future and one of these days they will move on to mentorship roles – one where they will create more players in their image and school them in their ways. That will be no less than their fifers and the centuries!