Colombo, Nov 11 (UNI) Sri Lanka Captain Mahela Jayawerdene and Kumara Sangakkara paid rich tributes to retired Sourav Ganguly who played his last Test against Australia in Nagpur and said it was the former captain who sowed the seeds of strong character in the Indian team to compete against the best in the world.
In his tribute to Ganguly, whose last outing in as an international player ended on a winning note against Australia yesterday, Sangakkara said, ''I believe he was the captain who gave India the strength of character to stand up to teams like Australia and compete really well against them.'' The Sri Lankan vice-captain said Ganguly's retirement is not only a loss to the Indian team alone but to the Asian sub-continent as well.
''I think it is a sad day when a great player from any country retires especially if a player like Dada is retiring. I think it is sadder for the Asian sub-continent in general because he has been a fantastic servant of the game,'' he said.
Sangakkara further added that he had learnt alot while playing against Ganguly and said he grew up watching the Indian player.
''I have got to know him (Ganguly) quite well over the years.
I know and respect him as an individual and as a great cricket player and I have grown up watching him batting and I have had the pleasure and privilege of playing with him and against him.
''I wish him all the best in the future and I know that he leaves with the respect of all his team mates and also the opponents who have played against him over the years,'' Sangakkara said.
Jayawardene said it was Ganguly's strong determination that allowed him to stage a remarkable comeback in the international cricket and said the left-hander showed great character to hang his boots on his own terms.
''Ganguly's retirement is a great loss to international cricket.
I think he has shown lot of character. He brought lot of character into the Indian team not only as a player but specially as a captain also.
''I think when he was captaining we saw lot of aggression from the Indian guys,'' Jayawardene said.
Adding that Ganguly's knowledge and expertise about the game can be utilised if he takes over as a coach or a commentator, Jayawerdene said the Indian players had lot of respect for him and he himself learnt a lot from the stylish left-hander.
''I had quite a few conversations with him about the game, how it is being played and the future. I have learnt from that as well because you talk to these kind of players and you will learn about your trade as well.
''It is a great loss. But I am sure he will be part of the cricket fraternity and will continue to be close to cricketers,'' the Sri Lankan captain said.
He further noted that Ganguly's sixes had made him a fear factor for many of the slow bowlers.
''I probably think, the lofted drives against any spinner, I think the left-arm leg spinners he loves them. I think those sixes probably were the highlight of his career because I remember lot of spinners did not like to bowl to him at that particular time,'' he added.
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