Ganguly: Pant will not become Dhoni in next 3-4 years

The former Indian cricketer hailed players from across sports like PV Sindhu, Mary Kom and Leander Paes for their achievements in their respective sports.

Pant is widely touted to replace Dhoni across formats for India.   -  GETTY IMAGES

“Sports is about fitness,” according to former India captain Sourav Ganguly, who was speaking at the fifth Progressive Teacher Conclave here on Saturday.

On the surge of champions in Indian sports, Ganguly observed, “Indian sport has produced champions in many sports like P.V. Sindhu, (Pullela) Gopichand, Leander Paes, Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal, Dipa Karmarkar, Milkha Singh, Jhulan Goswami. So it's going well and see how much Gopichand has sacrificed to make Sindhu a champion.”

Reflecting on the importance of role model in every sports, Ganguly said, “There has to be a role model in every sport and India has many these days. I grew up watching Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar. When Sindhu wins it's not just she who wins: it's the nation. She spreads belief that tomorrow I can be the champion amongst girls. England has enormous football following, they have their idols like David Beckham and Pakistan has fast bowlers like Imran Khan and Wasim Akram. India has batsmen like Gavaskar, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli.”

He praised six-time world boxing champion Kom for her acheivements. “She is an unbelievable boxer and champion before she had a family and even after she had a family she is a world champion. Women are more stronger than men. That' what I believe.”

Talking about the quality of Test cricket between India and the West Indies, Ganguly stressed, “Times are different. You cannot compare generations and neither do I want to say that West Indies was much stronger. The 1983 people will say they have never seen a West Indies team like that. So I don't think it's right to say that, this generation is strong or that generation is weak. But I am surprised with the way West Indies play Test cricket, they enjoy winning tosses and putting oppositions in and then batting on the fourth day of a Test match where they have no chance.”

When asked if the Indian dressing room was going through a uncomfortable situation with the presence of Dhoni, he noted, “I don’t think there is any elephant in the room. Rishabh (Pant) is not Dhoni. Rishabh will not become Dhoni in the next three-four years. It took 15 years for Dhoni to become who he is. Rishabh’s Test record is phenomenal. He is special as well. He (Wriddhiman Saha) will have to wait for his chance. Age doesn’t matter.”

Ganguly concluded with a nod to Kohli. “Virat is getting better and better. He was heavily criticised in the IPL (for RCB) but he captained well in the World Cup. It’s unfortunate that India lost in semifinals. But I think Virat has progressed a lot.”