Indian batting legend Sunil Gavaskar has taken umbrage to former England captain Nasser Hussain saying on a television show that the Indian team got tougher when Sourav Ganguly captained them.

“Indian teams were incredibly talented but I always found playing the Indian team before Sourav, they were a sort of nice,” said Hussain on the Sony Sports’ interview show titled ‘Pit Stop’. “Very friendly. You respected them but weren’t scared of them. Sourav made that side a tough, feisty side.

Hussain added: “And he still had his nice and very friendly people in there like Sachin (Tendulkar), VVS (Laxman). But what he made sure was that side was tough. Whether it was Harbhajan (Singh) or Yuvraj (Singh) or Sourav himself. You knew you were in a battle with them,”

Watch: Nasser Hussain on Sourav Ganguly’s revolutionary captaincy

Gavaskar, who was part of teams that beat England in England twice, didn’t take very kindly to Hussain’s assertion. In the 70s and the 80s, with the emergence of Gavaskar and Kapil Dev, Indian teams became very competitive and challenged the established order.

In his fortnightly column published in mid-day on Sunday, Gavaskar wrote: “Nasser went on to say that earlier, the team would be wishing the opposition good morning and smiling at them etc. See this perception: That if you are nice then you are weak. That unless you are in the face of the opposition, you are not tough. Is he suggesting that Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh to name just a few were not tough? That just because they went about their business without any chest-thumping, swearing, screaming and pumping their arms in obscene gestures, they were weak?

“And what does he know of toughness of the teams in the ‘70s and ‘80s which won overseas as well as at home to make that statement? Yes, Ganguly was a top captain, taking over the reins at a most delicate time in Indian cricket, but to say that earlier teams were not tough is nonsense.”