Nagpur was one Test centre that played a significant part in the international career of Sourav Ganguly. It started way back in 1997, one year after Ganguly's sizzling Test debut in England. In his quest to score his second set of back-back-hundreds, the Kolkata batting stalwart edged Sri Lankan pacer Ravindra Pushpakumara to Hashan Tillakaratne at slip and was dismissed for 99.
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Ex-India skipper Sourav Ganguly during a promotional event in the city yesterday. Pic/PTI
After leading India in two Nagpur Tests (2000 and 2002), Ganguly withdrew from the 2004 Test against Australia with a leg injury. The Australians, especially Matthew Hayden reckoned he had chickened out because the Vidarbha Cricket Association groundsman did not shave off the grass.
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Ganguly played his final Test for India at Nagpur's new stadium in Jamtha, got 85 in the first innings, a duck in the second but India ended up winning by 172 runs. Nagpur is in the news again due to a flurry of critical views of the pitch dished out for the third India vs South Africa Test which ended in three days last week.
'Could've batted better'
"I thought the batsmen could have batted better. There was lot of help for the spinners. I think it's a one-off thing, I don't think India will produce such pitches," Ganguly was quoted as saying in Mumbai yesterday by PTI. At the Coca Cola-NDTV 'Support My School' event, Ganguly spoke tomid-day about India making most of the home conditions against the South Africans at Nagpur. "That's the system… you can utilise the home advantage like India did. It was a tough wicket, the ball spun so it was not easy from a batsman's point of view," said Ganguly.
Asked to compare the Jamtha pitch rolled out for his 2008 farewell Test to the one which India and South Africa played on last week, Ganguly said: "That (2008 pitch) was a good pitch. The Test lasted five days and we went on to beat Australia. It turned a lot less than this one," said Ganguly.
The former India captain and current BCCI technical committee chief didn't seem to be too concerned about the spin-friendly pitches in first-class cricket. "The wickets are good and there is huge amount of opportunities for young players. We have to give something to the bowlers and the game cannot be too batsmen-dominant. The bowlers also come to prove themselves and they need to be looked after," said Ganguly.