If colours could speak then we would know what kind of mood the stalwarts were in. For Sourav Ganguly donned a hue of ripe tomato, while Virat Kohli sported a candy floss pink. The occasion was the launch of “Eleven Gods and a Billion Indians” by Boria Majumdar.
The author, himself a cricket historian, had bags full of anecdotes that would make ‘Ba Ba Black Sheep’ go sheepish with embarrassment. However, there were other stories to be told today that would make this cricket minstrel’s jaws drop.
Today Ganguly was not going to hold back. When Boria Said that Michael Clarke had told him that once at the toss Dada had flummoxed Ricky Ponting by calling head-tails at the toss and walked away saying they would bat, Dada interrupted: “I have often said that these Australians don’t understand things. Or else why would Monkeygate happen? Do you really think Harbhajan had called Symonds a monkey or what! Like I had told Ponting–Me heads you Tails and he did not understand…” and then the duo breaks into a laughter.
The talks veered invariably onto the balcony of Lord’s and Sourav again interrupted Boria and pointing to Virat Kohli said: “I can guarantee you now, if he wins the World Cup final at Lord’s in 2019. We better got our cameras ready, as he’s got the six packs and I would not be surprised if he’s on the Oxford Street with the Trophy and his shirt off.”
The present Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president then added, “And I can tell you who will be following him — Hardik Pandya.”
“120 per cent,” pat came the reply from Virat who went on to add: “I don’t think it will only be me because there will be a lot of people with six packs in the team. We will all be roaming shirtless. Hardik Pandya, there’s Bumrah as well… We have got a few candidates.”
Ganguly and Kohli today unveiled the book and cut a cake, but before that there was a caravan of emotions to ride. Recalling the day, Ganguly said, “The best thing that happened at Lord’s was, as I was taking the shirt off Laxman was pulling it down. Then Harbhajan, next to me, asked what should I do? ‘I said you take it off too’.”
Kohli said: “I must be 12 or 13 then. Dada and Viru Paaji gave India a rollicking start but after that we lost 5 wickets quickly. I was so sad I went off to sleep. Then my brother woke me up and said we were winning. I still remember the celebrations went late into the night.” That was the first ODI series win In England for India it gave Indian cricket a new momentum.
Ganguly said Kohli’s men have it in them to win the World Cup next year: “Yes of course, they can do it. They played the Champions Trophy final last year. Let’s not get too far ahead. Wish them all the best. They have got some wonderful talent. Hopefully they will be there. We want them to win, and whichever way it’s celebrated it’ll be up to them.”
Showering praise on Kohli, he said the present skipper transformed himself after his disastrous England tour in 2014. “Look at his transformation. He struggled in England and in less than six months, he scores four hundreds in four Tests. I’ve not seen any Indian batsman play so well in Australia.
“We all got hundreds in Australia, Sachin, Rahul, VVS and myself, but what he did in those four Tests was something I’ve not seen for a long time. That actually transformed him. There are times in life when every sportsman goes through this phase.”
Fitness has been given maximum emphasis by the Kohli-led current team. “There’s a purpose to it. It may sound old-fashioned. But there’s a meaning to it. Over the years, he has realised you play the best when you are the fittest,” Ganguly hailed.
Ganguly also confessed that when he walked out in South Africa after being dropped, he was advised by a friend not to make a comeback there, but Dada said: “If I had to prolong my career I had to prove I was better than the best attack in the world. That’s the mindset I had. I see that in Virat.”
In between both talked about the importance of human emotions and how they both went by instincts and what their heart said. The head was for mere calculations. “If you jog for sometime you get dispirited. Because there is no motivation. But if you play football there is a goal and you remain charged. I want the team to set goals and work its way towards it.”
Sourav signed off saying: “I can safely say that Indian cricket is in good hands.”