NEW DELHI: Former India captain Sourav Ganguly believes that Indian can salvage some pride in the final Test against South Africa starting in Johannesburg today, and that despite this being a proverbial ‘dead rubber’, Virat Kohli’s team had much to play for – not least the captain himself who he termed a “born leader” and backed to keep improving.
Following India’s loss in the second Test at Centurion last week, which included another poor batting performance, Kohli gave a fiery press conference in which he made some angry statements which did not go do well with his critics. In his column for TOI, Ganguly wrote that people should allow Kohli some room given this tour of South Africa was always going to be tough for a team that has played in Asia for the past 12 months.
“There is lot of talk going around about Virat Kohli’s leadership qualities. It is important to be patient as it is his first big overseas tour,” wrote Ganguly, who played 311 ODIs and 113 Tests. “Nobody really is a born leader and it is important that leaders are allowed to develop and grow. I am convinced Kohli will keep getting better at this. It is very important that as a leader you keep performing – that is the biggest challenge and this is where Kolhi has done remarkably well.”
Ganguly also felt that India should not hesitate to drop a bowler and play an extra batsman if the Wanderers surface wore a green tinge at toss time.
“The hype is obviously about the pitch, about what India will get to play on. The groundsman has spoken about a green pitch but till a ball is bowled, you can never say what the track will be like exactly. There is also word that India will play five fast bowlers but they will have to be very careful because spin will be useful in a five-day game and variation is also important in a longer format,” wrote Ganguly, who led India to the final of the 2003 ICC World Cup in South Africa.
“R Ashwin’s effectiveness with the bat should not also be discounted. The Indian bowlers have been in superb form this series. They have picked 20 wickets in both the Tests and it is important for the batters to stand up and put runs on the board. There is enormous talent in this batting unit, they have done it before and I find no reason why they can’t do it again. They will need to believe in themselves, need to fight for every run as a batting unit. The question for India will be whether to play five bowlers or four. If the pitch remains green till the start then they can go in with four bowlers and should pick that extra batter. If not, they must continue with the five bowlers.”