Ganguly confident of doing well 'Down Under'

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Sydney, Dec 9 (UNI) The prospect of touring 'Down Under' for the last time will give enough impetus to the ageing stars of Team India to do well in the series, believes former skipper Sourav Ganguly.

India is scheduled to play four-Test series against Australia and for the likes of Ganguly, this will almost certainly be his last Test tour of Australia. It might also be the final visit for Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, and captain Anil Kumble.

''This is motivation. A number of guys will not be back to Australia, so we want to play good cricket,'' he said.

''We have not been so good away from home but we have been a lot more consistent in the past couple of years and that has given us confidence.'' The 35-year-old Ganguly, is in the form of his life after making his comeback in the South African tour. He has already scored back to back centuries in the last two Test matches-- Kolkata and Bangalore-- against arch-rival Pakistan.

India are also looking in good form at the moment, leading 1-0 in their Test series against Pakistan.

But Ganguly said succeeding in Australia was a very different prospect from playing well at home.

''Winning in Australia is always difficult but we are confident.'' The fight for the Border-Gavaskar trophy is expected to produce fireworks after Andrew Symonds was allegedly racially abused by fans during Australia's trip to India in October.

The one-day series was also notable for the fiery antics of Indian quick Sreesanth, who was ruled out of the touring squad with a shoulder injury.

Ganguly, though was confident India could handle anything Australia dish out.

''That is not a worry for us,'' he said.

''What happened in India for me is in the past, but for Australia, maybe not. They will try to pressurize us and they may say some things but we have many senior players who can handle that.'' India begin their visit with a three-day tour match against Victoria starting on December 20. The four-Test series begins on Boxing Day in Melbourne before Sydney, Perth and Adelaide host their Tests in January.

Indian team, which is embroiled in a crisis, with chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar said to be at confrontation with BCCI over whether he (Vengsarkar) could write columns in newspapers.

Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar is also embroiled in a tax controversy, while officials are unhappy that new coach Gary Kirsten will be in Australia for only the third and fourth Tests.

But Ganguly insists the off-field dramas will not destabilise the Indians, who have a dismal record in Australia.

''It's important we start well. If we can win in Melbourne, that will give us some good momentum going into the New Year ... we cannot afford to let Australia dominate us,'' Ganguly told 'Sunday Telegraph'.

Indians, noted for their unrivalled ability to play spin, had been buoyed by news that leg-spinner Stuart MacGill would require surgery on his hand. The 35-year-old, southpaw believes the Australians will desperately miss MacGill's bowling in the series.

''Losing MacGill is a big blow for Australia, he's a world-class bowler,'' Ganguly said.

''It is not easy to replace a bowler of his ability, but the Australians are a very good side,'' he opined.

UNI

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