Pak a strong side even
without Akhtar: Sourav
NAGPUR : "It's unfair to say that East Zone are a weak
side," declared captain Sourav Ganguly after their
innings-and-149-run win over Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB)
XI in a Duleep Trophy game at the VCA stadium.
disagreed with the impression that all strong teams
(West, South, North) are put in one group of this
domestic tournament, while East, Central and BCB XI are
in the other group. The top team from each group will
play the final here from March 8, also the opening day
of the first India-Pakistan Test.
"East Zone reached the Duleep Trophy final last year and
won the Deodhar Trophy. I think on the performance of
last season, the groups have been made. So the Board
must have considered that before forming the groups,"
His guess is incorrect. The Board office simply put all
six teams in one basket and a draw of lots decided who
A closer look at the way ATP, the leaders of the tennis
circuit, do it — giving seedings to the top eight
players before deciding their groups in the year-end
championships — might make for less lopsided groups.
The other teams in the Duleep Trophy have closer
contests, while there was an innings victory here. It
should be noted that East reached the final of the
Duleep Trophy last season when the Indian stars were
busy with international cricket.
But now, for the large part of the Duleep trophy, the
cream of national talent was available. Furthermore,
East Zone have only one team (Bengal) in the Elite
division of the Ranji Trophy and only one player
(captain Ganguly) assured of his place in the India XI.
Here are the skipper's thoughts on other key issues:
On his knock here:
It is important to get runs before a series against
Pakistan. This was only my second first-class game after
the Bangladesh tour. I wanted to get as much practice as
possible and spent some time in the middle and probably
played a bit of patient knock. To go from 126-4 to
450-plus was a good effort by Shukla and myself.
On Advantage India without Shoaib Akhtar?
You can't say that. They are still a strong side.
On Tendulkar's fitness:
He said in Hyderabad that he is 100 per cent fit. That
solves all the problems and answers all the questions.
If he says he is 100 per cent fit, he is 100 per cent
On any instructions about pitch preparation for the
I haven't spoken to anyone.