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KOLKATA: Former India skipper Sourav Ganguly on Thursday hailed the way current captain Virat Kohli has come out in support of an under-fire Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the twilight of his career.
“He (Kohli) is a fantastic captain. I don’t know what he does inside dressing room or what he does tactically, as I’m too far away (from the team). I don’t know what he speaks in team meetings but the way he looks after his players is remarkable,” Ganguly said during a book launch here.
“I keep saying about MS Dhoni and what I see of Virat on MS is fantastic. A champion player (Dhoni) who’s probably on his last leg of his career and Virat coming and saying that he’s my man and I want him to play. You just change a player,” he added.
A few former India cricketers, including VVS Laxman and Ajit Agarkar, recently raised questions about Dhoni’s T20I future, creating quite a storm in the country’s cricketing circles.
Kohli, however, has said his friendship with Dhoni has grown immensely over the years and it’s a blessing to have him in the side.
Ganguly said: “He’s top class cricketer, one of the best India have produced for a long time. He reaches out, he handles it well.
“I like Virat Kohli and when I see him on the field, I sit on my sofa and watch. I’ve said it many times he’s a champion player. When I see him captaining India, he wants to win in all conditions. He’s very passionate,” Ganguly lavished praise on the current Indian skipper.
Asked about his style of captaincy, Ganguly said: “Everyone has their own style. You have to allow an individual to blossom, allow to deliver.”
Ganguly said his best legacy was to create the self-belief of winning away matches.
“It’s difficult to identify one series. We were 0-1 down and won 2-1 against Australia was remarkable in 2001,” said the 45-year-old former skipper.
“But I keep saying you always be judged how you do outside India. Of all our wins, Pakistan was good as well. It’s the belief we had of winning way that’s the legacy. After Dravid took over captaincy, we went to England and won there in 2007, so it’s the belief we can win away,” he added.
One of the most memorable wins for India under Ganguly was the 2002 NatWest final at the Lord’s where the former skipper and Virender Sehwag had a 106-run stand while India were chasing 326.
Recollecting the famous NatWest final win, Ganguly said captaincy was about holding back your emotions.
“We had a terrific start and then Ronnie Irani came to bowl his slow medium bowlers. I told Sehwag ‘don’t leave at this stage’,” he said.
“Ronnie pitched it up and Sehwag scored a boundary. I told him to rotate a strike, he scored two more and also swept another. I finally stopped going at him, he understood that I am not happy.
“Later he told me ‘don’t get angry all those balls were ‘hittable’. Captaincy is not about being boss, also about holding back your tempers.”
One of the most memorable image from that final was Ganguly taking off his shirt and twirling it wildly at the Lord’s Balcony.
“Before that we had lost three finals. A lot of that expression after the game was a sigh of relief. I just got carried away,” he said.