Ganguly hopes to be third time lucky

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly has suddenly emerged as a key batsman as India enter the important stretch.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly has suddenly emerged as a key batsman as India enter the important stretch in a tournament they have twice come close to winning in the past. Ganguly has two successive 90s under his belt and is constructing his innings like he has not for a long time. It augurs well for a team, which is missing Sachin Tendulkar at the top and is worried on the count of two of its young guns, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh. Ganguly is biding his time at the start of an innings, giving himself enough time to settle down and then accelerating with some audacious strokes in the end. Semi-final bid If he can pull off one more such innings in the Champions Trophy match on Sunday against arch rivals Pakistan, India will make it to the semi-finals of what is billed as the mini World Cup. "I am not looking to rush up things, if I stay long enough at the crease, I usually finish with a better strike rate in the end," said Ganguly. Pakistan too is viewing Ganguly as a key scalp and his counterpart Inzamam-ul Haq lost no opportunity in stressing upon the fact. "India has some outstanding batsmen and I have always admired Ganguly, along with Sachin (Tendulkar)," said Inzamam. SA likely opponents It might look too far fetched at this stage but if everything falls in place, India could be contesting the semi-finals against possibly South Africa at Rose Bowl next Wednesday. Amongst the Proteas, Ganguly has another admirer in Shaun Pollock who feels the Indian has a "freak" sense of timing. "He is audacious and has a freak sense of timing. I remember the sixes he hit against us in one of the series in South Africa," said Pollock. Ganguly's career is replete with instances where his good scores come in a clutch, starting with his back-to-back hundreds in his first two Tests and Indians are counting on more of it on Sunday. It would help him and India immensely if batsmen such as Virender Sehwag and VVS Laxman were to pick the threads from the other end and not force him to go on an overdrive in the early part of the innings. His present approach of a sedate start might have been dictated by the total he feels are defendable in these conditions. "In these conditions, scores of 250 or 260 is usually a winning total," said Ganguly. India, even without Tendulkar and a few out-of-form batsmen, are perfectly capable of raising such totals on the board and that too on slow pitches without resorting to urgent strokeplay. (PTI)

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