Ganguly gears up for his last Ranji game for Bengal

December 17th, 2008 - 7:45 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 17 (IANS) Sourav Ganguly is gearing up for one last challenge on the cricket field. The former India captain, who retired from international cricket last month, will be out in the middle Thursday in a bid to take his home team Bengal to the Super Division in the Ranji Trophy. Bengal, the 2006 Ranji Trophy finalists, are now in the Plate group and if they manage to win their semi-final match against Goa then they are back again in the Super Division. For Ganguly a win will be a fitting farewell from his home team as he has decided not to play any more first-class games even if Bengal qualifies for the final.

On the eve of the match, the 36-year-old became nostalgic and remembered his first-class debut 18 years ago. As a 17-year-old he came in as a replacement for his elder brother Snehasish against a formidable Delhi attack in the Ranji Trophy final in 1990 at the Eden Garden. Ganguly made just 22 runs as Bengal went on to win the trophy for the first time since 1939.

“I still remember my first Ranji match. It was tough as Delhi had the best bowling attack,” recalled Ganguly on the eve of the match at the Karnail Singh Stadium here Wednesday.

“Since then I have been playing for Bengal and also led them. Domestic cricket is very important for any international player. This is an important match for Bengal. Good to play cricket again,” he added.

The day Ganguly retired from international cricket he said he was open to help his team. On a request from the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), he is here to play.

CAB’s chairman of selector Sambaran Banerjee, who is touring with the team, also recalled the spring on 1990 when Ganguly came out to play under him in the all important Ranji final.

“He was 17 that time and in very matured way he handled the formidable Delhi bowling led by Manoj Prabhakar. Sourav made just 22 but left an indelible mark as then chief national selector Raj Singh Dungarpur came down during the lunch to enquire about this new boy. And now rest is history,” he said.

Banerjee is now banking on Ganguly’s experience to help Bengal claw back into the elite group.

“This is like final for us so his presence will matter a lot for the team. Though he won’t be leading the side his experience will be of great help. He is a born leader,” Banerjee said.

All the bowlers, be it the experienced Ranadeb Bose or the young Ashok Dinda, everyone was eager to bowl at Ganguly who himself looked keen in the nets.

For Ganguly it was like any other day in office. “I train with these boys during the off days. So it is nothing unusual for me.”

Asked whether in-form Yuvraj Singh is his worthy replacement, Ganguly said: “After Gavaskar, Mohinder, Vengsarkar went, Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid replaced them. So when we go there must be some replacement. He (Yuvraj) is a talented player and has established himself in ODIs and trying to do now in the Tests.”

So what next after the match?

“I am settling down and trying to establish my family business. I had a rigorous life for 13-14 years,” he said.

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