Tag of ‘poor tourists’ may haunt India again, fears Ganguly

Sydney, Jan 11 (IANS) Former India captain Sourav Ganguly fears that the cricket team will be dubbed poor tourists again as some of the big names in Indian cricket are in the fag end of their career.

Ganguly, who led India to draw the Test series Down Under in 2003-04, said Indian cricket has taken a lot of pride in their performance overseas in the past decade.

‘But I fear they have taken a huge step backwards in the past year. India are always a strong team at home – almost unbeatable – and the big challenge in the 2000s was to change the performance overseas,’ he said.

Ganguly, who is here as a commentator, said India in the last decade have emerged as good tourists with some great players like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and V.V.S. Laxman. While Kumble has already retired, others are in the final stage of their glorious careers.

‘India did manage to do that with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, V.V.S. Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh over a long period of time but the question now is, at the back end of the careers of these huge names, is India again soft when touring?,’ said Ganguly.

‘There is still time before coming to a conclusion but time is running away fast for this team, and they quickly need to find a way to get the monkey off their back,’ he said.

Ganguly said inability of the bowling and the batting to fire together and failure to seize important moments during a match doomed India during their England tour last years and now against Australia here as well.

‘Test matches can quickly turn in such important times and I can recall plenty of times when India has slipped up. Take, for instance, the second Test in England at Nottingham, when England were 8-124 on day one but managed to get 221 and a sniff at the Indians. India never got back into the game and finished off getting beaten 4-0 in the Tests.

‘They were in a similar position in Melbourne with Australia at 6-214 before the lower order put together partnerships and got the hosts to 333. India then tumbled from 3-214 to get knocked over for 282, again getting into a position where they had to fight from behind. Winning matches is about seizing the moment and that did not happen,’ Ganguly wrote in his column in Sydney Morning Herald.

Ganguly said India, who are trailing 0-2 in the series, have a lot to ponder after the Test losses in Melbourne and Sydney.

‘It’s not the losses but the way they have been outplayed that will be a big source of concern for M.S. Dhoni and Duncan Fletcher. Sydney was India’s sixth consecutive defeat in as many matches overseas and in most cases they have been one-sided Tests , with five out of six finishing in four days,’ he said.