India suffered a heavy defeat of 118 runs in the fifth and final Test against England at The Oval on Tuesday (September 11). By virtue of this loss, the No.1 ranked Test side also conceded the series 4-1 to England.
After such a miserable performance, the backlash from Indian fans and media was pretty much expected. Amidst the criticism, however, former India captain Sourav Ganguly has come in support of Virat Kohli and his men. Ganguly urged Kohli to identify the potential players and give them a slightly longer rope.
“More than postmortem, it is important to recognize talent here. It is important for every team to move forward. I believe that the kind of batting that the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Rahane and Rahul have done in this series, they are 10 times better cricketers. Kohli needs to bring the best out of his players. It is a big responsibility of a captain to take the players along as you move ahead,” Ganguly told India TV.
“If the captain puts his arms around a player’s shoulder and says that he wants the player to win him games, the performance will automatically improve. That atmosphere needs to be there. Identification of talent is very important,” he added.
Ganguly, who was known to back his players to the hilt, also told the national selectors to have patience on certain players who have shown the glimpse of hope in tough conditions.
“Selectors must see who are the players who make runs outside the sub-continent. They should give those players an opportunity in India. It shouldn’t be the other way round. All the big stars of Indian cricket have made runs outside the sub-continent. And if you see, a player like KL Rahul has hit centuries in both Australia and England. So, he should be given an opportunity. Yes, there should be pressure, but it shouldn’t be so much that the player breaks down. The selectors have to show this balance,” he opined.
Ganguly was is full of praise for KL Rahul, who scored a scintillating century (147) under immense pressure on the final day of the fifth Test. It was Rahul’s maiden Test ton on English soil and also his first significant score in this series.
“Rahul batted really well. There was pressure on him and I am surprised that it took him so long to score runs as he is a quality player. Broad troubled him in this series, but I am happy with his showing because I feel there is a place for him in this team as an opener. You can say that it was a little late in the day, but it can definitely act as a motivation for the youngster,” the former India captain asserted.
Ganguly said it is vital for an opener to give a good start in overseas conditions and thus he feels India should move on from Shikhar Dhawan, who is yet to prove his mettle outside the subcontinent despite touring multiple times.
“Cannot blame any individual as such, but as an opener it is important to score runs in overseas conditions. If the opener gives you a good start, the ball gets older when the middle-order comes in to bat. Since Dhawan hasn’t done well, India might need to look at another opener outside the sub-continent,” he asserted.
Ganguly also was pleased to see the fearless approach of Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul and Rishabh Pant on the final say.
“Sometimes when your back is against the wall, you need to come out and play positively. And that is exactly what Rahul, Pant and Ajinkya Rahane did, they played fearless cricket. This is a good sign, even though you can say that the performance has come very late in the series. But you must applaud the efforts of the trio,” he concluded.