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Sourav Ganguly keen to see coach Anil Kumble's performance in Indian conditions

India Today logo India Today 12-09-2016
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All eyes were on low performers opener Shikhar Dhawan and middle-order batsman Rohit Sharma before the selectors sat down in Mumbai earlier on Monday.

Both have been below par for the past 12 months which, including a home series vs South Africa and then an away series against lowly-West Indies, where most Indian batsmen were prolific. Yet the two have retained their spot in the 15-man squad announced for the 3 home Tests vs New Zealand.

While the decision gives plenty of choices to the Indian team management, it also raised a few questions.

For example, just who will get preference between Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma, the former of which was replaced by the latter when India decided to go in with five bowlers in the third Test against West Indies. Pujara did not get to bat in the fourth Test either but roared back to form with scores of 166 and 256 in the ongoing Duleep Trophy.

Speaking on the two Ganguly said, "If you ask me about who should get picked ahead, any day Pujara because I think he is a better batsman in Tests. His record in India also is very good. He played a great knock vs Lanka as well on a difficult track when he was asked to open and scored a ton. He was left out in Jamaica, where everyone said he was a bit slow. But I was completely surprised by that decision. You need a number three like that, like Rahul Dravid."

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Ganguly though agreed with the selectors that whoever has been picked should be given enough chances. But he added, "Rohit's talent hasn't materialised as well in Tests, especially overseas in seaming conditions, than in the shorter format. I think he has got enough of a long rope. The selectors will not find out anything new about him in the 13 tests at home. He will continue to be with this team though."

A tougher call could well be on the openers - with Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan and new-sensation KL Rahul - all picked.

"With eyes closed, it's Vijay and Rahul for opening slot. Look at their performance overseas. For Vijay, in Australia and England. In West Indies he got injured and then never got picked again. By far, he has been India's best opener over the last two years. Before the Windies tour we had the same discussion on Rahul and now he has become one of the premier Indian batsmen. So these two should open. Pujara at 3, Virat Kohli at 4, Rahane at 5," Ganguly added.

The series against New Zealand will be the beginning of a long home stretch for India with 13 Tests lined up. Sourav, who was part of the Cricket Advisory Committee that interviewed coach prospects and picked Anil Kumble, said he is keenly looking forward to India's strategy in coming months.

"With Ashwin batting at No. 6, I don't see any reason why India can't play all three spinners in a match and still go with two seamers. I'm keen to see the outlook of the Indian coach Anil Kumble on what he does in Indian conditions. Does he play on rank turners where the ball begins to turn or gets back to old ways where we played on good pitches where results came on day 4 or day 5, which will be key for their performance against the bigger teams."

Slideshow: Sourav Ganguly - The Prince of Calcutta

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