Only Saurav Ganguly can say if he planned the big show at the Nehru Stadium, Pune. If he did so, it can be said Saurav chose the right time and place to present his credentials in a forceful manner before the national selectors.
The century against West in the Deodhar Trophy final was not great but it was a fine effort, representing the fighting spirit of a young man keen to climb great heights. He is the latest meteor on the Indian cricket horizon. A punishing bat and a useful medium pacer Saurav Ganguly has the potential to go to places.
It also underlined the immense talent and potential he has. With the emergence of Saurav, one can expect a healthy rivalry between him and Bombay’s Vinod Kambli, who has proved to be a nightmare for the bowlers this season. Saurav Ganguly seems to like the West attack, for in the Duleep Trophy quarter-final at Guwahati he weighed in with a ton, while his teammates fell like nine pins.
The Indian cricket scenario has undergone a refreshing change with Sachin Tendulkar shooting into the limelight with a string of powerful batting performances. Sachin Tendulkar’s capabilities saw him blooded in the big league and now it is the turn of the other youngsters, still in their teens, to seek recognition. With the 1991-92 seasons to open with the five-m Australia for World Cup, the Kambli will do their best to merit serious thinking from the selection committee.
It does not matter, now that East the underdog, lost the Deodhar final. For, after a long, long time a batsman of a class has surfaced from the Gangetic Delta, The 19-year-old Saurav is yet to play one full, first-class season for Bengal.
Never mind that. Here is a batsman who has the will and determination to succeed. He does not flinch against a good medium-pace and seam attack and is exemplary against the spinners. In short, Saurav likes to take up a challenge. The brightest aspect of his attitude is he does not curb himself and strikes the ball hard given the slightest scope.
Saurav’s debut against Delhi at the Eden Gardens was not remarkable. All he made was a flashy 22, He may not have figured in the final at all, had it not been for Rajsingh’s avidness in giving the youngster a shot at the higher level and against a good attack in Atul Wassan, Sanjeev Sharma, Manoj Prabhakar, and Maninder Singh.
The 90-91 season has been a crucial one for Saurav in first-class cricket, He has scored runs in the East Zone league this year though he has not got a big hundred. But Saurav Ganguly cannot be blamed for that He bats low down the order for Bengal and with Arun Lal & Co. in the thick of the action, Saurav’s chances of getting adequate exposure are limited.
But the fact that he was picked for the zonal side reflects the confidence the selectors have in him. Players like Ranjib Biswal, Rajinder Singh, and Saurav Ganguly have given a new look to the East Zone side. It was Srikanth’s superb catch at wide gully which cut short Saurav’s tenure in the Deodhar semi-final against South.
East’s surprise win gave another opportunity for Saurav to show his mettle and this time he grabbed it with both hands. Saurav was lucky in a way. The loss of three quick wickets put East in trouble and the lad notched up 2 fine 125 in 120 balls. His assault, in the slog over’s, raised hopes of another shock win for East, but it fell short of the target by 44 runs.
It was against the Pakistan under-19 team that Saurav was in his element. He made a fine impression in the Bombay Test His wide range of strokes was evident, but the punch between mid-wicket and wide mid-on was the most pronounced. He does not lack the left-hander’s glide and flicks off the pads. But he will become more solid if he learns to lean into his shots.
After the series against Pakistan juniors, Saurav was in good nick in the CC! Golden Jubilee Invitation tournament and in the solitary match in the Wills Trophy early this year. He cleared the straight boundary line by yards and with ease.
At Pune, in the Deodhar final, Saurav was fed around the leg stump and he punched hard. The best shot he executed was when he went back and across to pick up a ball at knee height and thumped it between mid-wicket and wide mid-on for a thundering four. It showed how much control he had in keeping the ball down.
There were extravagant shots on the offside too. One such sent the ball soaring over the extra cover fence, while the next one propelled the ball all along the turf. Sourav Ganguly batted like one possessed after getting his century. Saurav Ganguly is also a handy medium pacer and can surprise the best batsman with his variation.
Having announced his arrival in the senior grade, Saurav’s aim would be to be consistent throughout the season. Sachin Tendulkar has already set the trend. Players like Saurav Ganguly and Vinod Kambli are fast catching up.