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Ganguly defends team's late arrival

Source: PTI
August 25, 2005 21:15 IST
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India captain Sourav Ganguly completely disassociated himself from the "hold up" bungle in Harare and said his team had no choice but to stay in the Zimbabwe capital for two days.

India's arrival in Bulawayo less than 24 hours before the Friday's game against New Zealand led even Kiwi captain Stephen Fleming to describe it as "highly surprising".

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But Ganguly's version showed his side to be the innocent party as the Indian captain declared that they were only following the schedule provided to them.

"That's what the itinerary we have been provided with. We just followed the schedule which we were given," said Ganguly, after his side arrived late in the afternoon for a light practice session.

Ganguly's assertion throws the entire blame at the door of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, which has reportedly "unhappy" with the attitude of a few Indian players.

"We were not aware of it till we landed in Zimbabwe. I don't know who did it, Board or anyone else, but when we landed in Harare it was told to us that we were going to go to Bulawayo today (25th)," said Ganguly.

Ganguly, inevitably, was also asked if he agreed with the Board's charge that a few players showed "indiscipline" in not turning up in time before the team left for Zimbabwe.

"I didn't have a discussion with the Board on this and perhaps that's the question which they can answer best. But I came in the evening because that's what I was told. I didn't receive any official intimation," Ganguly said.

In fact, he made the issue rather poignant when he declared he was held up because it was the birthday of his wife Dona.

"I came late because that was my wife's birthday on 22nd. I had to stay back to be with her for at least some time."

Ganguly preferred to look ahead rather than dwell at the unsavoury incidents of the last few days.

"We can't bother about it as we have a game tomorrow. There could have been a lot of things but they are best left to the past. We can only draw some consolation from the past where we played immediately on arrival and did well.

"One instance was in Toronto in the 90s and then against England in Mohali in 2001 we played a Test within 72 hours of arrival from South Africa."

Ganguly admitted his side had not performed well in one-day cricket in the last 11 months and blamed it on "poor approach" on the part of the players.

"We have not done well in ODIs and that's a fair criticism. We are aware of it and need to change the process. I believe that players need to be a lot more determined. They need to change things around.

"Obviously it is how we approach and it must be the mind. We have also to address the issue how we play in the finals."

Ganguly said one of the definite reasons for India's slump was the failure of batsmen to convert good starts into big hundreds.

"If you look at the past, we did well because a lot of hundreds were scored by our batsmen. Now we are making 40-50 and not converting them into big scores. It is an area of concern."

Commenting on the two opponents in the competition, Ganguly praised New Zealand but was soft on Zimbabwe's embarrassing performances in international field.

"New Zealand are a good one-day side, have always been. We have had a few success against them and they against us so it would be a keen game tomorrow.

"Now that we are here we have to live up to the challenge. A few guys are coming from South Africa so they know the conditions. The ones coming from Sri Lanka would have to adapt quickly.

"Zimbabwe have had a poor run lately in international cricket but they can only get better."

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