Former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar on Thursday hoped that Sourav Ganguly will do well in Pune Warriors India's match against Kolkata Knight Riders when the two teams meet here on May 5 in the marquee match of the IPL V.
The 56-year-old former selection committee chairman, who was conferred with the Lifetime Achievement Award along with four-time Olympian and ace middle-distance runner Shiny Wilson in the Bluechip-Calcutta Sports Journalists' Club Annual Awards Function, said Ganguly still has the same passion for the game as in his national team playing days.
Describing Ganguly as one of the finest India captains, Vegsarkar said, "He (Ganguly) is still committed and playing with a lot of passion. All the best to him in IPL."
"I hope he will do well for Pune Warriors India versus Kolkata Knight Riders. I am sure the people here will be rooting for him," he said while receiving the award at a glittering ceremony at the Town Hall today.
"He was my room partner on my last trip to Australia. One of the finest captains India has produced. He is a great motivator and promotes youngsters. He still has the love for game," he recollected.
Vengsarkar credited former ICC president Jagmohan Dalmiya for making India a cricketing powerhouse.
"Here one name comes to my mind - Jagmohan Dalmiya. He was a fantastic administrator. Because of him we are now seeing the great days of cricket. Really hats off to him," he said paying rich tribute to the current Cricket Association of Bengal supremo.
Vengsarkar also said that the Eden Gardens has a special place in his heart as he had scored his maiden Test century here, in the third Test versus the West Indies in December 1978.
"Kolkata has a special place in my heart. Especially the Eden Gardens where I had scored my first Test century in 1978-79," he said about his 157 not out in the second innings.
"Till that moment, I was doing well but only to get out in 80s or 90s. Before the start of Kolkata Test someone told me that I should not mis-field or drop a catch here. Otherwise, 80-90,000 spectators will boo at me.
"But as things turned out, myself and Sunil Gavaskar shared a 344-run undefeated partnership here. I really enjoyed playing here. The crowd was always supportive. Since then, it has been my favourite ground," Vengsarkar said.
"But at the same time I would like to say that I'm lucky to be hailing from Mumbai, the headquarters of cricket. I'm really thankful to Maharashtra cricket Association and the BCCI. The board is doing a great job in creating infrastructure," he said.
Vengsarkar further said that Ajinkya Rahane could fill the number three slot left vacant by Rahul Dravid.
"He (Rahane) is one fine prospect. Of course he has done well in one-dayers earlier. I think he can be a good No. 3 batsman," he said.
Four-time Olympian Shiny Wilson also got nostalgic about Kolkata and remembered her maiden national medal which she had won in a National School Meet here.
"I got my first medal in Kolkata when I was studying in class ninth during the school nationals here. It feels great to be here. I feel honoured," an emotional Shiny said while receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award.
West Bengal Sports Minister Madan Mitra announced Rs 5 lakh for the Calcutta Sports Journalists' club.
The function also awarded the state athletes in various disciplines.
Best Senior sportsperson: Anthony Amalraj, Best Junior sportsperson: Soumyajit Ghosh, Lifetime achievement awards: Dilip Vengsarkar and Shiny Wilson.
State Awardees: Football: Okolie Odafa, Cricket: Ashoke Dinda, Hockey: Ramandeep Singh, Table tennis: Poulami Ghatak, Aquatics: Supriyo Mondal, Athletics: Asha Roy, Volleyball: Anusri Ghosh, Kabaddi: Ajijul Mondal, Badminton: Rituparna Das, Tennis: Shivika Burman, and Chess: Diptayan Ghosh.
Special felicitation: Legendary Olympians: Keshav Dutt and Leslie Claudius; Jhulan GoswamiÂ (Padma Shri), Shabbir Ali (Dhyanchand), Dr Kuntal Roy (Dronacharya), Sunil Chhetri and Rahul Banerjee (both Arjuna) and Salil Dey (former sports journalist from Amrita Bazar Patrika).