Cook gets top marks as an opener: Ganguly

Ganguly also Ganguly praised centurion Cheteshwar Pujara for his “temperament and technique".



Mumbai: Somewhat famished after an entire day’s work on TV, Sourav Ganguly was about to tuck into a plain dosa by the iconic Taj Mahal Palace hotel’s poolside, on Saturday evening, when Graham Gooch greeted him.

“Would you like a bite?” Ganguly asked. Gooch gave the dosa a close look and quipped: “Thanks, but no... Mike Gatting, the Eating XI captain, wouldn’t have offered a bite, though!”

Ganguly burst out laughing.

The Gatting bit over, the former captains began talking about England’s present captain, Alastair Cook.

Old master of spin hails gritty England skipper

“A good day for England, with Cook leading the way,” Ganguly observed. Gooch, who has mentored Cook at Essex, responded: “He’s an intelligent batsman... He’s adapted his game to suit the subcontinent... Playing like this doesn’t come naturally, but look at the way he’s batting... Sweeping, stepping out to Pragyan Ojha...”

Spotting his companion, Gooch, now England’s batting coach, sought leave from Ganguly.

Asked by The Telegraph how he looked at the second Test, after the first two days, Ganguly said: “India’s still in control, but it could become a different game if England manage a big lead... I wouldn’t say India didn’t bowl well today (Saturday), it’s just that England batted very well.”

Cook, who had scores of 41 and 176 in the first Test (Ahmedabad), will start Day III on 87.

“A very good batsman... As captain, Cook is learning, but he gets top marks as an opener,” Sourav maintained.

Down 0-1 in the four-Test series, England are desperate to draw level. Cook’s teammates need to follow his example.

Ganguly praised centurion Cheteshwar Pujara for his “temperament and technique,” adding that he looked to have the game for all conditions.

A double century in the first Test and a century here... Pujara’s quickly established himself at No.3, a slot vacated by the peerless Rahul Dravid.

As the Wankhede wicket is challenging and India were in massive trouble (169 for six), Pujara has rated his 135 more satisfying than the 206 not out.

The guy’s hungry, so watch out...

It was under Ganguly’s captaincy that Virender Sehwag, playing his 100th Test, made his first appearance 11 years ago (in Bloemfontein). Also, it was Ganguly who persuaded him to open on the 2002 tour of England.

Clearly, that move turned out to be a game-changer.

“I can’t take any credit... It’s because of his abilities that I asked Viru to become an opener... He had it in him... Full credit to him alone for the batsman that he is,”

Ganguly signed off.

The plain dosa was over. As also the Darjeeling tea, which India’s most successful Test captain loves, with just a touch of milk.

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