Former skipper Sourav Ganguly is confident that India will bounce back after a disappointing tour of South Africa when they take on New Zealand later this week. Ganguly said India would do well in the five ODI and two-Test series starting January 19 in the land of Kiwis. (Click here to get the latest from India's tour of New Zealand)
"I'm very very hopeful of success against New Zealand. We've just come back from a tough tour of South Africa, losing both Test and ODI series. We have seen India doing well after a difficult tour. But I'm hopeful of Team India doing well in New Zealand," Ganguly told a Bengali news channel. (Also read: Fit-again Southee back in ODI squad)
Ganguly said Kiwis lack the experience of pacers Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel and is an inferior side. "They don't have (Dale) Steyn or (Morne) Morkel in their side. New Zealand are an inferior side in comparison to South Africa. If their coaches are intelligent enough, they would have out and out greentops," Ganguly said. (Related: India not taking Kiwis lightly)
Ganguly further backed Bengal skipper Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Ashoke Dinda not to lose hope for a India comeback. "If Bengal make the final, Shukla's performance will be counted by the national selectors, (Ashoke) Dinda will also make a strong case for himself for a comeback," Ganguly said of Shukla, who played three ODIs way back in 1999.
Despite having got the Lala Amarnath award for the best all-rounder in domestic limited overs by the Board, the 32-year-old is still being overlooked as Stuart Binny was chosen for the allrounder spot in India's five ODIs in New Zealand.
Defending the decision, Ganguly said the selectors had considered the burly allrounder's IPL show for the Rajasthan Royals and rued that Bengal had little representation in the T20 extravaganza which is taken as a yardstick.
"He (Binny) had been a stand out performer for the Rajasthan Royals and in their qualification into the (IPL 6) final. He has also been retained by Rajasthan Royals.
"But if you look at Bengal, our boys not even get a chance to play in IPL regularly...
"On form, Shami is the best Indian pacer at the moment, but it's unfortunate that he's not retained by the state franchise (KKR).
"These are the things national selectors take into account. Selectors are bound to give importance to a big tournament like IPL, that's the way it is, that's the system," Ganguly pointed out.
Hailing Bengal for making the Ranji semifinal for the first time since 2006-07, Ganguly said: "They have all performed under pressure, right from skipper Shukla. Dinda is still being overlooked by the national selectors...
"All these players have stood under pressure. For four years, they have fought relegation. I've seen it very closely. I know how tough it is," the left-hander told a Bengali news channel.
"On paper, Bengal have beaten stronger teams to make the semis than Maharashtra who have come from lower rung group C. But any team at this stage is strong, they (Bengal) have to play all five days of good cricket to be in the final," he said of Bengal who will face Maharashtra in Indore from January 18-22.
Ganguly, who has already got an honorary fellowship from University of Central Lancashire, will be conferred D.Litt by the Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur. "That I will be honoured in my home town makes it all the more special. It's a big honour for me. I feel proud," Ganguly concluded.