Live cricket scores, Cricket news and updates by Cricket Nirvana


The Nagpur Test against Australia will in many ways establish a new era in Indian cricket

Wednesday, November 05, 2021

'Ganguly’s aggression triggered Ind-Aus rivalry'

Sai Mohan

There are five attention-grabbing aspects to look forward to as the teams arrive at Nagpur for the fourth and final Test match of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy Series 2008-09. Former Aussie fast bowler Damien Fleming spoke to to analyse them.

Ganguly’s farewell Test

After Anil Kumble’s exit at Delhi, Sourav Ganguly is all set to bid adieu at the end of the Nagpur Test against Australia…

“I know a lot of Australians who would love to see the back of Ganguly. He is one of the captains during Australia invincible era (1999-2004) who challenged their might. He triggered the rivalry between India and Australia and took it to a whole new level. If you see the series in India in 2001 and in Australia two years later, he gave it back to the champions with his shrewd captaincy,” said Fleming.

“He doesn’t have the best of records as a batsman against Australia but he always challenged us on the field with his smart field placing and the manner in which he inspired his players,” the former Australian fast bowler said.

“Even as a batsman I remember bowling to him and he was so strong through the point and cover region. For him, it would be crowning glory to end his career with a series-victory against the Australians and to bring back to India the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. He would love to leave the game on a high and I know a lot of Aussies who respect him.”

Ganguly's retirement will also open up a slot for a batsman in the Test side.

Laxman’s 100th Test

Stylish right-handed batsman VVS Laxman is all set to become only the seventh Indian to appear in 100 or more Test matches. Is it destiny that it has come against Australia?

“He’s the opposite of Ganguly in terms of runs scored against Australia. His record against us is as good as any other batsman in the history of the game. He is such a beautiful player to watch and is next only to Tendulkar in terms of grace and skill. The manner in which he whips the ball from outside the off-stump; it’s a pleasure to watch.”

“We Australians feel he’s one of the best players in the world and have great admiration for his batting technique. He makes Test cricket so enjoyable with his beautiful strokes.

“It is destined in many ways that Laxman’s 100th Test is against his favourite opponent, Australia. He said in an interview that his knock of 281 against us at Kolkata in 2001 revitalised his career and was the turning point for him. Well if that’s the case then it surely is destiny that he achieves this fabulous milestone against Australia,” Fleming said.

New Stadium

It has been hailed as world class stadium by journalists who have visited the venue over the last few days. The brand new Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) stadium is set to host the fourth and final Test match between India and Australia.

The project, built by eminent Design & Construction Company, M/s Shapoorji Pallonji & Co. Ltd, Mumbai, was supposed to be over by August 2007 but the designs underwent a lot of changes extending the time period.

“It is fantastic for India that there is so much money getting pumped in to its cricketing structure and it is able to construct these new state-of-the-art stadiums. It is great for the spectators, cricketers and even commentators like us,” Fleming said.

“I remember being at Vidharbha last October and the locals were very excited about this new stadium. It is fantastic that the new stadium is getting christened with such an important, series-deciding Test match in progress.”

“As far as the pitch is concerned, I have been told that it is going to be a batting paradise. The only manner in which the Aussies can win is probably by batting first and scoring 500 odd runs and putting India under pressure. However the last Nagpur Test between India and Australia saw a green top of a pitch. Who know what’s in the offing,” said Fleming.

Start of the MSD Era

After his stupendous success as captain of the limited-overs teams and a clean slate thus far as a Test captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni prepares to take charge of the Test team on a fulltime basis. His stint as captain of the Test team could begin with a massive series victory against Australia and would surely boost his bio data as captain.

“Kumble did a fantastic job as captain I thought but Dhoni is just such a natural leader. He never gets frustrated while in the middle and always seems to have a control over proceedings. It is a great sight for Indian cricket. I have seen a great sense of poise in his eyes whenever I have interviewed him at the toss. He is a very confident leader,” Fleming said.

“Another important aspect is that Dhoni has found respect amongst the senior players in the team. It is not always easy to do that, especially when you have the Tendulkars and Dravids in a team set-up. He seems to be someone who is easy to communicate with”

“It is indeed a start of a new era in Indian cricket with Dhoni taking charge as captain in all forms. He will be the perfect man to integrate the talents of Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Ishant Sharma going into the future. His era as captain cannot start on a better note than a Test series victory against Australia,” said Fleming.

Shake-up in Indian balance

Gautam Gambhir’s one-match Test ban and Anil Kumble’s retirement have caused a severe shake-up in the balance of the Indian Test XI going into the series-decider at Nagpur. Rahul Dravid has been tipped to open alongside Virender Sehwag while VVS Laxman is set to bat at number three in his centenary Test match.

Amit Mishra and Harbhajan Singh will form the new spin-attack for India. How will these changes affect India? Australia have already made it verbal that India will dearly miss Gambhir. Ricky Ponting feels India will be distracted. Only time will tell…

“I haven’t heard too much about the new batsman Badrinath. I was quite surprised that Rohit Sharma wasn’t drafted into the team. I don’t think India will miss Kumble as a player because he wasn’t bowling well whatsoever and was in his fag end. In fact they have a better combo in the making in Mishra and Harbhajan Singh.”

“Australians need to use these changes in the Indian team to their advantage. Rahul Dravid has not been in the best of form and it would be great for them if they can get him out early. Ganguly and Laxman have emotional Test matches to play in and the team will still be coming to terms with life without Kumble in the dressing room. It is, in many ways, the start of a new era in Indian cricket:”