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Azhar hails Ganguly on his b'day


Posted: Jul 08, 2008 at 1454 hrs IST

Kolkata, July 8: : Former India captain Mohammed Azharuddin wished Sourav Ganguly on his 36th birthday, a day when the national selectors picked the left-hander in the Test squad but ignored him for the Champions Trophy.

Azhar, who was India's most successful captain till Ganguly eclipsed him, wished the left-hander on his birthday and hailed him as one of the most fluent stroke-players.

"It is a pleasure to see him bat. To say he is a good batsman would be an understatement. Ganguly is among the few cricketers who have the natural stroke-making ability. My wishes for him on Ganguly's birthday," Azharuddin said.

Azharuddin watched Ganguly evolve as a batsman right from the day the left-hander made his international (ODI) debut and scored that not-so-famous three against the West Indies in 1992 and then the famous 131 against England at Lord's in his first Test appearance in 1996.

Azharuddin was also there to cheer when the left-hander notched his first Test hundred -- overall 14th -- at his home ground at Eden Gardens in November-December 2007.

Showering praises on Ganguly, Azharuddin said, "He is resolute in nature. The comeback he made (in 2006-07 tour of South Africa) shows how strong mentally he is. It's not easy to make a comeback but he proved the critics wrong by his fight back with a bang."

After Ganguly was dropped for the home Tests against England in early 2006, the Bengal southpaw returned in the South Africa tour in December 2006, ending the series as India’s highest run-scorer.

His return to ODIs was an icing on the cake as he posted four half-centuries. Continuing his fine run, Ganguly found himself at home in England, finishing as the second highest scorer in Tests, and went on to slam back-to-back hundreds against Pakistan at home, the second of which was a glorious 239 in Bangalore.

The first, by the way, was an elusive hundred at his home ground Eden Gardens. "Ganguly was a relieved man after posting his first century at the Eden. After all, the century (Ganguly's 14th) came after 97 Tests. He played really well in that knock of 102. He really worked a lot for the century. It was a sedate knock and his innings was quite positive," Azharuddin said.

Meanwhile, asked if India lacked experience as they choked to a 100-run defeat against Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup final on Sunday, Azharuddin said, "Not really… it's a matter of a performance of a given day. The youngsters have been doing quite well. You must not read too much into one-odd show."

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