highlights Bangalore finished second from the bottom in the recently concluded IPL. Ganguly believes World cup stint will be different for Virat as captain. India will play their first World Cup game against South Africa on June 5. Kolkata: Former captain Sourav Ganguly on Tuesday insisted that Virat Kohli’s IPL captaincy will not have an impact in the World Cup as he enjoys a good record as an ODI skipper. The biggest advantage for Kohli will be the support of two very successful leaders — Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Rohit Sharma — on whom he can fall back on during testing situations. Royal Challengers Bangalore’s repeated failures in the Indian Premier League have put the spotlight on Kohli’s leadership skills but Ganguly said Indian captaincy is a different ball game.”Don’t compare Virat Kohli’s IPL captaincy record with that of India. His captaincy records for India is very good actually. He’s got him in his team as the vice-captain. Dhoni is there. So he’s well supported,” Ganguly told PTI on the sidelines of a promotional programme.The 46-year-old felt Hardik Pandya will play a key role in India’s campaign at the mega event, starting May 30 in England.”Hardik Pandya will play a key role. He is in tremendous form. He will be very, very important for India’s chances.” The former left-handed batsman picked Pakistan alongside India, Australia and England as the four semifinalists in the upcoming World Cup, saying their records in world tournaments in England is remarkable. England has been a ‘lucky’ venue for the Pakistan, who had won the 2017 Champions Trophy beating India and had also bagged their maiden World Twenty20 title in 2009.”Pakistan’s record in world tournaments in England is remarkable. They won the Champions Trophy two years ago, they won the 2009 World T20 in England.”He also cited the recent example of Pakistan’s second ODI against England, in which they almost chased down a mammoth 374 before going down by only 12 runs.”Pakistan always play well in England. You see the last game in England. England got 374 and Pakistan just lost by 12 runs. They also beat England in England in Test matches there because of their bowling lineup.”Ganguly, however, was quick to add that Virat Kohli’s men should not be wary of Pakistan and they would prove to be strong contenders.”I don’t believe in records. Both of them will have to play well on that particular day. India will be a very good side. They will be very hard to beat. Team which has the likes of Kohli, Rohit, Shikhar Dhawan can’t be weak.”Asked to compare this team with that of his team of 2003 that lost to Australia in the final, Ganguly said: “Both the teams are of different generations. We played the final in 2003. I hope they play the final and win it.”Indian cricket is so strong. And we have been strong for the last 25-30 years. Every world competition that we play, we will have a chance. This team has as much chance as we had in 2003.”Starting as one of the favourites, India would be under tremendous pressure but Ganguly felt it would bring out the best from Kohli and Co.”So it’s good that India is under pressure, every other team in the World Cup will be under pressure. You don’t want to turn up like a Nepal or an Ireland where the entire world thinks that you’re not going to win.”You rather turn up like an India or an Australia or an England where everybody says this team is going to win the World Cup. So Virat, probably being the best player of the world at the moment, is as much under pressure as anybody else and that will be good for him because he will turn up, work hard, he will be pumped and get India going.”Ganguly said it would be an interesting World Cup as all 10 teams will play each other before the best four qualify for the knockouts. “This team has as much as opportunity. It’s a great World Cup because all 10 teams play against each other and the best four qualify. There are strong teams and you realise England, Pakistan, West Indies all can win.”So it’s good that India is under pressure because it will help them perform and it’s going to be exciting 55 days of cricket,” Ganguly said. For all the Latest Sports News News, ICC World Cup News, Download News Nation Android and iOS Mobile Apps.
When Gorgui Dieng left Senegal, he was a wire-thin teenager who only knew a few words of English. He enrolled at the upstart Huntington Prep School in West Virginia in 2009 – a 19-year-old with minimal basketball experience.Dieng didn’t come to West Virginia with polished fundamentals. Instead, the 6-foot-11 center made his mark with length and awareness, developing into a defensive force in the middle of the Huntington Prep defense.“He was very raw and skinny,” Huntington Prep head coach Rob Fulford said. “But he had an extremely high basketball IQ.”With his innate timing and awareness, Dieng swatted his way from the Sports For Education and Economic Development in Senegal Academy (SEEDS), to Huntington Prep, and finally to a scholarship offer from Louisville head coach Rick Pitino. Now a junior center with the Cardinals, Dieng has gained strength and refined his offensive game to become one of the most indispensible players on the No. 1 team in the country, which will play No. 6 Syracuse Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky.Though his offensive contributions are increasing, Dieng still relishes the dirty work on the defensive end of the floor that got him to where he is today.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSince he started playing basketball, Dieng’s role has been straightforward: Rebound the ball, score when it’s available and make life difficult for anyone trying to convert around the rim.That’s exactly what Fulford got when he recruited Dieng to Huntington Prep.Dieng learned basketball during his time at SEEDS Academy. Dieng earned a spot on Team Senegal in the 2009 Nike Global Challenge in Oregon, where Fulford heard about his talent from contacts covering the event.“He was a big time shot blocker and rebounder,” Fulford said. “His timing was very good and he had a knack for the ball.”Dieng channeled those skills into 15.4 points, 12.6 rebounds and a staggering 7.2 blocks per game in his senior year at Huntington Prep. For his teammates, Dieng’s presence under the basket was reassuring. He was always the last line of protection to cover for their mistakes.“You could tell right away that defense was going to be his thing because he was so athletic,” said Tyrel Edwards, Dieng’s Huntington Prep teammate. “As a forward, you always knew if your man got by you, he’d be around the basket to help out by making guys change shots or just getting a block.”Dieng kept protecting the basket when he got to Louisville. As a freshman, he ranked third in the Big East with 1.9 blocks per game.Dieng improved on that mark during his sophomore year, leading the Big East in blocks and finishing eighth nationally with 3.2 per game. Dieng directed a memorable onslaught against Michigan State’s offense in last season’s NCAA Tournament West Regional semifinal. He rejected seven shots as the Cardinals held the Spartans to 44 points in an upset victory to earn a trip the Elite Eight.“He was very disruptive. He pulled off some great blocked shots,” Michigan State forward Draymond Green said after that game on March 22. “That’s what he does. That’s his strength.”Dieng still wreaks havoc on opposing frontcourts in the post. His effect on the Cardinals was never more obvious than in the aftermath of a Nov. 23 victory over Missouri, when Dieng took a hard charge and fell to the ground, breaking his left wrist.He was initially ruled out for four to six weeks, as Louisville faced then-No. 5 Duke the day after Missouri. The Blue Devils won 76-71 in Dieng’s first game out. They out-blocked the Cardinals 6-1. It remains Louisville’s only loss of the season.Dieng missed seven games, working back into the lineup for a Dec. 29 game against in-state rival Kentucky.Dieng’s timing was off because of his absence. He still labored with a slim cardinal-red cast on his wrist.For Pitino, a flawed Dieng was more effective than his alternatives at center.“Even coming off a month layoff he’s still a lot better than what we have at that position mainly because he communicates so well,” Pitino said at a press conference before the Kentucky game. “He’s smarter than everybody. It’s not just the physical part, but he talks constantly. He tells people where to go. He picks up the scouting report perfectly.”Dieng only took four shots against Kentucky and found himself deep in foul trouble. Dieng made big plays, though, none more important than his ranging block on a 3-point attempt by Kentucky’s Archie Goodwin with one minute left in regulation as Louisville held on for an 80-77 victory.In his four games since, Dieng has asserted himself offensively. He has averaged 11.3 points (compared to a 9.2 average for the season), including a 16-point performance in a victory against Seton Hall Jan. 9.Even with the offensive explosiveness the Cardinals show in spurts, Louisville’s stifling defense has carried it for most of the season. The Cardinals boast the second-best turnover differential in the nation, thanks to the fast hands of guards Peyton Siva and Russ Smith.When opponents navigate their way through the swarming quickness of Louisville’s backcourt, they find themselves trying to overcome the bulked-up 6-foot-11, 245-pound Dieng.Though he’s found a 15-foot jump shot and throws down a definitive dunk when he gets the chance, Dieng flourishes most when he’s playing defense around the basket.That’s the responsibility he’s used to. The duty he most likes to perform.“I always say I don’t care if I score or not,” Dieng said before Louisville’s dominating win over South Florida Friday. “I just want to do my role.” Comments Published on January 16, 2013 at 12:22 am Contact Jacob: [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+