Ganguly: 'Kohli will be a good leader'

"I get the right vibes when I hear Virat speak. He is very honest; honest with his selections, honest with his players. That's more important in a leader. You get respect by doing that," said Ganguly.

Former India captain Saurav Ganguly sharing a light moment with Virat Kohli during a practice session.   -  K.R. Deepak

Former Test captain Sourav Ganguly is convinced India can tame the challenge from England as the five-match series begins at Rajkot on Wednesday. He has his reasons too and discussed them in this talk with Sportstar.

Question: How do you rate England?

Answer: England has a good record against India but I don't think they will be able to hold on to it this time. They are not the same side for these conditions. They are a good side in conditions when the ball is doing a bit. When their fast bowlers come in. Basically they don't have (Monty) Panesar. No (Graeme) Swann. It will be very difficult for them to get 20 wickets.

Q: Do you say that because of England's showing in Bangadesh?

A: Little bit of that. The composition is such, their spin attack is such, that they have not been able to do well (in Bangladesh). Swann and Panesar on that wicket would have got Bangladesh for 100.

Q: Do you have to play spin well only to succeed in the sub-continent?

A: You have to spin well. And not only spin well. You have to make sure you play spin well and have good spinners. The only time India has been under pressure in the sub-continent is when Swann and Panesar played and Shane Warne was at his best. Never before and never after have India been under pressure. That sums up the story.

Q: Would India press for spinner-friendly pitches against England?

A: Virat is on the right track. I have had that experience in Kolkata (when India played New Zealand recently). Not once did he call up and say I need a turner. I don't think he has asked for turners and I don't think that any of the Test matches in the series against New Zealand have been square turners. I am just worried about Visakhapatnam in this series. Other four wickets will be good I am sure. A good wicket must allow turn on day 3 and 4. That's Indian conditions for you before the ball turns viciously. That's the nature of our cricket. You don't go to New Zealand and not expect the ball to seam on day 1.

Q: Is Kohli a leader?

A: Virat is a leader. He'll be a good leader. He gets runs himself, is passionate, wants to create a team that will win in overseas conditions. I get the right vibes when I hear him speak. He is very honest; honest with his selections, honest with his players. That's more important in a leader. You get respect by doing that.

Q: What would you tell Kohli?

A: Do the same what he has been doing all this while. He has done fantastically well on away trips. People would say he encountered weak sides (in West Indies, in Sri Lanka and New Zealand at home) but he has done nothing wrong. He'll ofcourse be tested once the series against Australia is over because the next two years he will only be away. That's the real test for the Virat-Kumble partnership.

Q: Is winning away from home all?

A: Not just winning away from home. It's got to be both. It's not like that always. You just run through the teams in home conditions and when you get difficult conditions overseas you just get rolled over. A good team is good in all conditions. A good team competes well in overseas conditions and doesn't get rolled over. Like it happened when we started (under his captaincy) in Australia, South Africa, We simple got rolled over. We just didn't know what it required to win in Australia. Then the transformation happened. India has not been tested yet under Kohli. Not been tested yet.

Q: How do you assess India's pace attack?

A: Mohammed Shami is exceptional. Ishant (Sharma) has huge experience and will take the mantle. In difficult conditions they too would be tested. I have tremendous regard for Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar). He picks his five wickets, gets dropped, comes back and takes his five wickets. He has a terrific attitude. They are all in good hands (of Kohli).

Q: Is Hardik Pandya the all-rounder India has waited long?

A: Hardik is a gamble the selectors have taken. In India we dopn't get all-rounders. So , no harm in giving him a try. You may create an all-rounder. All good sides have an all-rounder. Thest thing about all-rounders is they can bat well. Hardik bowls at 140. If he continues to do that, can bat well, he can be a rare cricketer. He has to be given the opportunities and hope he justifies them too.