Kolkata:Shikhar Dhawan’s return to form got a glowing stamp of approval from Sourav Ganguly who said the southpaw is a class act and can take the game away when in full tilt.
Dhawan missed out on a maiden T20 hundred as he was unbeaten on 97, but his belligerent knock helped Delhi Capitals register their second successive victory as they did a double on Kolkata Knight Riders.
DC had won the one-over eliminator against KKR in the first leg played in Delhi on March 30. With Friday’s win, DC moved to the fourth position in the points tally with 8 points from 7 matches, while KKR remained at the second spot with equal number of points but a superior net run-rate.
Although the dashing left-hander did get a half century before in this edition of the IPL, Dhawan was out of form with scores of 0, 12, 30 and 16 before this innings.
“It was more like a Shikhar Dhawan innings, once he gets set, he takes the game away. He is a class act. We were desperate to take Shikhar, good that he is coming off. It is an important phase of the tournament,” team advisor Ganguly told reporters at the post match press conference here.
Asked if his comeback to form would help in the upcoming 50-over World Cup as well, Ganguly said: “World Cup is a different format… and Shikhar plays very well in England. He is a fantastic one-day cricketer.”
Ganguly also spoke highly of young stumper-batsman Rishabh Pant who partnered with Dhawan for a 105-run second wicket stand, scoring a matured 31-ball 46 a day after head coach Ricky Ponting asked him to bat out the full death overs.
“According to the situation, we pushed him up to four to gave him more opportunity to bat. He is a great talent. He is only going to better,” the former India captain said.
Ganguly was a ‘visitor’ at his own Eden Gardens with many detractors alleging he had a say in manipulating the pitch as he is also the Cricket Association of Bengal president.
I have played so much cricket and seen so much cricket, that I don’t need to do all those things. Good teams will play on all pitches, and we are a good side. I know many stories are cooked up, but I can’t do anything about it,” Ganguly said.
Rating the Eden 22-yard strip as the best in the country, Ganguly said: “Yes, it is special. Everything at the Eden is special, it is the best ground in the country, the best pitch as well. We bowled exceptionally well to restrict them to 178 for seven, it was actually a 200-run pitch. We chased it down easily.”
He also spoke of Ponting and him being determined to turn Delhi’s fortunes.
“We are determined to turn this team around. Both of us have played in teams which have won around the world. So there’s a lot of self-pride in turning teams around.”
Ganguly was also quizzed about the feeling to be sitting in the dugout and not playing. “It is much more difficult to sit in the dugout than playing in the middle.”
On Andre Russell, whose 21-ball 45 went in vain on Friday, Ganguly said: “For Russell, there is only one plan, keep praying that he hits one up in the air and is caught.”
(With inputs from IANS)