My message is simple - play with freedom and play without fear: Ganguly

One of India's most successful Test captains, Sourav Ganguly speaks about the challenges of captaining an IPL team.

Sourav Ganguly

Calcutta: Sourav Ganguly, who is captaining the Pune Warriors India in IPL-V, spoke to The Telegraph from the Marriott in Chandigarh on Wednesday afternoon.

With smart captaincy playing a role, the Warriors have won their first two matches and, clearly, couldn’t have started the tournament on a better note.

The following are excerpts

Over the moon after a dream start…

Not really, for this is only the beginning of a long tournament and it’s best not to get too excited.

Captaincy is something you really enjoy. What’s it like being back in the hot seat?

Frankly, at this stage, it doesn’t matter whether I’m the captain or not. What matters is whether the team is playing well and whether the team is playing to potential. In my view, T20 is more of a team game as there’s less time for individuals to make a mark as individuals. This format is so fast paced that, usually, everybody moves as a team.

Is captaining the Warriors any different from the Kolkata Knight Riders?

No. I gave everything to the Knight Riders during the time I led them (2008, 2010) and I’m giving everything to the Warriors now. The Knight Riders was my team at a point in my career; today it happens to be the Warriors.

Are you already excited about the May 5 showdown in Calcutta?

(Laughs) I haven’t even thought about it… May 5 is a long way off and that match should be just another game.

For such a successful international captain, is it actually a challenge to lead an IPL team?

Of course. In some ways, the pressure is the same as is the intensity. Don’t forget that the IPL, indeed, is a high-pressure tournament.

Are you, then, suggesting that it’s tough to lead a franchise?

It is tough.

What were your thoughts before the Warriors’ first match in IPL-V, against the Mumbai Indians?

If you are asking whether I was under pressure, then the answer is yes. Having been around for so long, I can say with some authority that the pressure only goes away once you are through with the game, not otherwise.

So, what’s the best way to overcome pressure?

Soak it in and try and focus better. Accept the reality and move on, without allowing negative thoughts to take root.

Your team doesn’t have really big names. From a captain’s point of view, is that a plus or a handicap?

Look, I wouldn’t say that we don’t have big names… Michael Clarke will be joining us… The likes of Robin Uthappa, Ashok Dinda and Rahul Sharma have played for India… Marlon Samuels, I must say, is a superb T20 cricketer… But, yes, Graeme Smith isn’t available.

Obviously, you remain the No.1 star…

(Laughs) That won’t change, even when Clarke arrives from the West Indies!

How many matches will Clarke be available for in the league stage?

Eight.

That means Clarke is going to be there for the business end of IPL-V…

Absolutely.

Just how important is momentum in a long tournament?

Momentum matters, but it’s not something that you can’t pick up at any one stage in a tournament.

"I gave everything to the KKR when I led them and I’m giving everything to the Warriors now."Basically, what have you been telling your players?

My message is simple: Play with freedom and play without fear. I’m happy that my players have been doing that.

Is there an X-factor which makes the difference?

I guess being in the right mental space.

You’re an IPL veteran. Is there something you have learnt in the first four editions which is coming in handy this time?

Well, you keep learning… If there’s something I’ve learnt the most, then it’s the importance of consistency.

Your opponents on Thursday (Kings XI Punjab) haven’t opened their account as yet…

But IPL-V has just begun… These are early days and I’m not reading much into what has happened in the first two matches.

How closely are you following the performances of the Knight Riders?

Whenever I can, I do try and watch their matches… It all depends on when and where we are travelling, our training schedule and so on.

Have you been surprised by some of the early results?

No. The shorter the format, the more the chance of it becoming anybody’s game. That’s T20.

Has anybody really stood out in the first week?

It’s too early to either look at individuals or teams in isolation. Let another couple of weeks pass.

At 39, Rahul Dravid and you are having quite a ball…

But there are other 39-year-olds as well… In fact, Adam Gilchrist is 40.

The last one… At the toss, then, will you and Gilchrist be talking about 39 and 40 year olds?

I never talk about age.

Matches

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