21 years on: 10 moments involving Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid that we remember till date

Sourav Ganguly Rahul Dravid
Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid

On the 20th of June 2017, it will be 21 long yet memorable years since Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid made their Test debuts on the hallowed turf of Lord’s. The two have seen many special as well as disappointing moments in Indian cricket.

It was Dravid, who termed Ganguly as the “God of the off-side” and here’s a look back at 10 such moments, involving the two that we fans remember till date” and

#1 Debut

Sourav Ganguly Rahul Dravid
Sourav Ganguly celebrates his maiden Test hundred at Lord’s

After India had exited the 1996 World Cup in the semi-final stage, they set out for a three-match Test series against England on their own soil in mid-June. The squad comprised of a large number of players, who had participated in the World Cup held in the subcontinent but it also had some fresh faces like Venkatesh Prasad, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid.

After losing the opening Test at Edgbaston, India suffered two setbacks when Navjot Singh Sidhu stormed off the touring party, following reports of there being a rift with the captain Mohammad Azharuddin and then middle-order batsman Sanjay Manjrekar failed a fitness test on the morning of the game, thereby paving the way for two newcomers- Ganguly and Dravid to debut in the second test at Lord’s

The former made an immediate impact in the game, not with the bat, but with the ball, removing the in-form Nasser Hussian for 36 and then getting rid of Graeme Hick for 1.

After England had been bowled out for 344, India suffered an early jolt with the bat, losing Vikram Rathour for 15 with the team score at 25. In walked Ganguly at 3 and from the outset, he looked organised, particularly with his footwork.

After finishing not out on 26 at the end of Day 2, it was on the following day that one got a glimpse of the future as the left-hander unleashed an array of strokes, delighting the packed house that had turned up. However, his teammates couldn't adjust to the pitch as much as he could and at 202 for 5, his fellow debutant-Dravid-walked out to bat to join him.

It seemed as though one debutant had passed his assuredness to the other one as the right-hander showed little nerves and put on a vital stand with Ganguly.

With the scoreboard reading 222 for 5, the moment arrived. Dominic Cork delivered a ball on off stump and Ganguly caressed it through the cover boundary to record his maiden Test hundred in his 1st innings. The celebrations were obvious and he would later admit that he didn’t quite know how to react to the moment.

He was eventually bowled out for a superb 131 by Alan Mullaly and was given a standing ovation for his innings.

Prior to the match, Dravid and Prasad had promised one another that the former would get a hundred while the latter a five-wicket haul.The bowler had kept his promise by taking 5 scalps in the 1st innings and now it was the batsman’s turn.

However, it wasn’t to be as on the score of 95, Dravid nicked a Chris Lewis delivery back to the keeper and walked off immediately. The stage had been set then and there for two great careers.

#2 Carnage at Taunton

Sourav Ganguly Rahul Dravid
Ganguly and Dravid at Taunton in 1999

After India had lost to two African nations-South Africa and Zimbabwe in the 1999 World Cup- they faced a must-win scenario against Sri Lanka in Taunton.Arjuna Ranatunga elected to bowl after winning the toss and seemed to have made the right call when Chaminda Vaas bowled Sadagopan Ramesh for 5.

However, little did he or anyone else know what was to follow. Dravid walked into bat and set, what was going to be the tone for the remainder of the innings, by unleashing a slew of fours that completely caught the opposition off-guard.

The left-handed Ganguly soon joined the party as no bowler, even Muralitharan, were spared on the small boundaries and flat pitch of Taunton. The duo had switched on their four and six-hitting mode for the day and eventually put on 318 for the second wicket with Dravid scoring 145 and Ganguly 183. India reached a monumental 373 for 6 which proved to be too much in the end for the defending champs.

#3 The magic of Eden

Indian players after their win at the Eden Gardens

Prior to the start of the Border-Gavaskar series of 2001, Indian captain Sourav Ganguly had said a slightly bullish comment, when he said that the arriving Aussies had beaten a team like the West Indies at home before setting foot on Indian soil.

It seemed like he had to eat his own words when the visitors crushed the hosts by 9 wickets in Bombay and then had them on the ropes, trailing by 274 runs in Kolkata. That's when Ganguly along with coach John Wright took the decision that was to change the complexion of the series.

With VVS Laxman stroking the ball very well, the skipper and coach decided to push him to Number 3 and Dravid to Number 6 and it proved to be a match-turning call.

After the skipper’ dismissal with the score at 232 for 4, The Hyderabadi and Bangalorean put the Aussies to the sword, putting on a mammoth 376 runs for the 5th wicket that completely knocked the stuffing out of the Australians.

Laxman was out for a superb 281 while Dravid scored an underrated but equally effective 180 as India eventually clinched the match by 171 runs.

In the next Test at Chennai, after Harbhajan Singh had hit the winning runs, the cameras panned to the dressing room and replays showed an elated Ganguly jumping high in the air in celebration of a famous come-from-behind series win.

#4 The steeliness, followed by the merry

Dravid and Ganguly along with Tendulkar scored majestic hundreds

Trailing 1-0 in the series, India headed to Headingley for the third Test of the four-match series in 2002, hoping to level the series. Known around the world for its bowler-friendly conditions, most experts felt that whoever won the toss should elect to bowl on that wicket.

But clearly Ganguly thought otherwise and when the coin fell in his favour, he opted to bat, leaving many surprised. The batsman had a task on their hand and after Sehwag had gone early, Sanjay Bangar, along with Dravid, put on an excellent stand of 170, negating whatever venom that was on the pitch with great determination.

Bangar was dismissed for fine 68, but the Bangalorean carried on to register his 12th Test hundred on a difficult pitch, thereby reaffirming his potential in tackling a crisis.

He was eventually dismissed for an excellent 148 and then it was the turn of Sachin Tendulkar and Ganguly to make merry on a pitch that had flattened out on Day 2 and both players registered respective hundreds as India posted a huge 628 for 8 declared.

The Indian bowlers backed their batsman with a good all-around effort that bowled out England for 309 all out and then, just as the skipper had planned, it was time for Kumble and Harbhajan to get onto the act on Day 4 and 5 and on a wearing wicket, the duo took 5 wickets between them as the visitors won by an innings and 46 runs to level the series 1-1.

The same tour saw yet another moment at Lord’s, when, after India had registered an amazing win in the Tri-series final, Ganguly removed his shirt and waved it passionately on the balcony of the Home of cricket.

Harbhajan Singh recalled an interesting moment that happened at this point that day, recently when he too wanted to remove his shirt and wave it around, only for Dravid to stop him and say ”Ek Salman Khan kaafi hai”(One Salman Khan is enough).

#5 A World Cup to remember, barring the end

Ganguly embraces Dravid after the win against Pakistan

After enduring a troubled tour of New Zealand, India went to South Africa for the start of the 2003 World Cup, low on confidence. That was evident when they won a close tie against the Netherlands and then were pummelled by the Australians by 9 wickets in the next match.

It was time for the trio- captain, vice captain and the most experienced man in the squad to stand up and perform. And that's exactly what happened. Tendulkar led the charge as India beat Zimbabwe. Dravid and Nehra then stepped up in the win against England. Tendulkar then produced one of the most memorable performances seen in ODI Cricket as India maintained its unbeaten run against Pakistan and then Ganguly raised his game when it mattered, scoring a ton in the semifinal against Kenya as India entered the World Cup final after 20 years.

But sadly, it didn't prove to be the farewell as one thought it would be as the Men In Blue were crushed by 125 runs in the final to finish runners-up to the mighty Australians. It certainly was a World Cup to remember barring the end.

#6 A match to remember at Adelaide

When Dravid batted like God

After drawing the Test in Brisbane, thanks to a captain’s effort from Ganguly and a few rain interruptions, both India and Australia went to Adelaide, looking to take an early advantage.

Opting to bat first after winning the toss, the hosts batsman, led by Ricky Ponting put the Indian bowling to the sword, scoring at a fast pace and never allowing them to employ any sort of pressure. The right-hander’s brilliant 242 meant Australia registered a huge 556, leaving the visitors all to do.

After a quick start by the openers, India crumbled to 66 for 4 with Sehwag, Tendulkar and Ganguly gone.However, that is when the ghosts of Kolkata 2001 seemed to have returned to haunt the Australians.

Dravid, joined by VVS Laxman, made full use of a flat deck and an inexperienced bowling attack and pummelled them to the ground, putting on 303 runs for the fifth wicket, the highlight being the manner in which the Bangalorean brought up his hundred with a top-edge six over long leg off the bowling of Jason Gillespie.

Laxman was eventually dismissed for 148 and Dravid for 233 as India fell short by just 33 runs, all out for 523.

That Australia was looking for quick runs in the second innings was evident from the word go,but little did anyone know that for all the embarrassment he faced in the 1999-2000 tour, Ajit Agarkar was to earn solace on this day at the Adelaide Oval.

The Mumbai bowler took career-best figures of 6 for 41 to bowl the Australians out for 196, leaving India with 230 runs adrift of a famous win.

In a tricky fourth innings case, it requires just one batsman to go all the way and who else, but Mr. Dependable to step up once again. Helped by small but critical stands with Tendulkar and Laxman, Dravid stood like a rock, withstanding all the pressure and when the moment arrived, with 1 to win, smashed a short ball from Stuart MacGill to the cover boundary to help India win their 1st test on Australian soil in more than 20 years.

At the end of the game, Ganguly said that “Rahul batted like God”, while Dravid confessed that he wanted to stay until the end, adding that several times in the past, India had reached the brink of a win, only to fizzle out in the end.

In a later interview, the right-hander termed the 233 as his, “best-constructed innings”.

#7 The Greg Chappell era and all that happened around it

The duo saw some tough times in the Greg Chappell era

After John Wright had ended his term as India coach in April 2005, the BCCI appointed former Australia batsman Greg Chappell as his replacement, in a move strongly backed by skipper Ganguly.

However, few knew then the kind of impact it was to have on Indian cricket.4 months after his appointment, cracks began to appear in the coach-captain relationship when the former asked the latter to resign from his captaincy and give more emphasis on his batting.

Issues boiled over further when Chappell said that he would pick both Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif over Ganguly, leaving the Kolkatan fuming and causing him to pack his bags. An intervention by the manager Amitabh Chaudhary and Dravid helped calm matters and Ganguly stayed on.

The problems only compounded further and as an eventual result, the left-hander was dropped from the side and Dravid took over the captaincy.

The omission of Ganguly only caused more uproar in Kolkata and after some good performances in domestic cricket, he was recalled to the Test side for the tour to South Africa in 2006.

One of the brighter moments in this tumultuous phase came in Johannesburg when led by an incisive spell from S Sreesanth, India beat South Africa in their backyard for the first time in a Test match.Ganguly had a key role to play as well as his patient fifty in the 1st innings helped India put up a respectable total on the board.

The tour was the start of a fruitful run for Ganguly, who proved to India's most consistent batsman for the next few months across formats. But his form couldn’t prevent India from suffering an embarrassing opening round defeat at the 2007 World Cup and it was in such an awful taste that Indian cricket bid farewell to Chappell.

#8 The much-needed win at Trent Bridge

Dravid and Ganguly walk off after helping India win at Trent Bridge

After the Chappell era, India went to England for a three-match Test series that year, hoping to start afresh. After escaping to a draw thanks to the rain, at Lord’s, both sides moved to Trent Bridge for the second Test. Opting to bowl first, Zaheer Khan and Anil Kumble delivered the goods as the visitors bowled the hosts out for 198.

One of the moments of that England innings, involved Ganguly employed as the fourth seamer, removing a set Alastair Cook, lbw for 43 and celebrating with arms up in the air twirling and eyes all big and surprised in claiming the vital scalp.

It was then time for Indian batting to step up and after the openers had set the tone, it was down to the middle order to carry the good work forward and it was a key stand of 196 runs between Tendulkar and Ganguly, followed by an important knock of 54 by Laxman, that served as the rocks for India’s eventual total of 481.

Following a jelly beans incident during heir batting, Zaheer came out all charged up and in a superb display of fast bowling, knocked England out with a five-wicket haul, despite a diligent hundred from Michael Vaughan.

Needing 73 to win, India stumbled at the start, but it was Dravid and Ganguly, who ensured that the deserved win didn’t fall out of hands and they got the team over the line. The win would eventually seal the series 1-0 in India’s favour,their 1st triumph on British soil in 21 years.

#9 Time for the stalwarts to call it a day and then indulge in some banter in the box

Dravid walks behind Ganguly on his final day as an international cricketer

After the England series win, the following 12 months proved to be contrasting for these great men. While Ganguly’s rich vein of form continued, Dravid suffered a slump in form, with runs hard to come by.

In the winter of 2008, Australia arrived in India for a four-match Test series and few days prior to the start of the opening Test at Bangalore, Ganguly, completely out-of-the-blue announced that this was to be his last assignment with the Indian Cricket team, catching all off-guard.

The talismanic left-hander left the international shores on a positive note, with a hundred in the second Test and in his final few moments as a cricketer, also captained the side as India crushed Australia at Nagpur.

Dravid,however, carried on for a few more years and after a lengthy struggle, found his hurrah, albeit in disappointing times for the team, in England in 2011, stroking three majestic hundreds in times of strife to enhance his reputation, as the man for a crisis, further.

However, 6 months later, it was time for him to bid farewell as well and he did so with the same dignity as he had played the game all along at a function in Bangalore.

The two had a stint in the commentary box and it sure was fun

After the two had called it quits, the two took to the microphone to give their opinion on the game.However, it was not always serious stuff.

During the opening Test of India’s tour to England in 2014, the visitors were finding it hard to get rid of James Anderson and Joe Root, the televisions viewers back home were treated to a hilarious banter in the box, involving the both of them concerning the 2007 tour of England.

Here are the excerpts:

Dravid: I was just trying to figure out how many overs I gave to Tendulkar and Ganguly (in 2007). Maybe I under bowled Ganguly there, but Sachin had more Test wickets.

Ganguly: He (Dravid) always did that.

Bhogle: Tendulkar has more Test wickets than Ganguly.

Ganguly: That’s because he (Tendulkar) bowled half his overs on turning pitches in India.

Bhogle: I like how you (Ganguly) are sticking to your territory.

Ganguly: Those turning pitches on day 5 in India. Those dust bowls. I wish I knew how to bowl a little bit of spin. That’s on flat batting pitches. On good pitches where you needed skill, look at the economy (2.3 rpo in 2007). I did the perfect 5th bowler’s job.

Dravid: Sanjay Manjekar made a really good point in the commentary box. If Ganguly had been a yard quicker and just a little bit fitter, he would have been a match-winner.

Ganguly: I wish I was Prime Minister of India. I could have done a whole lot of things.

Bhogle: I almost feel like not getting into this conversation. I’m getting away, this is some serious sledging. Come on Rahul, don’t be a good boy here.

Ganguly: Ask Rahul Dravid. When he won the toss at Trent Bridge in 2007 in our famous Test series win, England were going at almost 6 an over who did he fall back to?

Dravid: I’m not denying that. I’m absolutely not denying that. I just made the point that if Ganguly didn’t get tired after 5-6 overs, I would have bowled him much longer spells.

Ganguly: I would request the production team to get the spell out and we need a judgement here.

Dravid: Don’t forget the speeds as well.

Ganguly: I bowled 10 overs on the trot for 1/15. I’ve seen biased people, but I’ve not seen as much.

Bhogle: One thing you got to admit Rahul, he (Ganguly) does know his numbers.

Dravid: I’ve never doubted that. His numbers and the numbers of any left-handed batsman in the world, Sourav knows.

Ganguly: He (Dravid) must have been happy that he had a player with intensity in his team. A player who cared for the numbers and the game. That’s what you look for as a captain.

Bhogle: I think there’s a reason he (Dravid) under bowled you (Ganguly). As a captain, you made him keep wickets.

Dravid: No Bhogle, don’t needle.

Ganguly: He (Dravid) did a job for the team and I desperately needed him to do that. We became a better team after that.

In what was a boring, dull Test match, it was certainly one of the standout moments.

#10 Traversing different directions at present

Ganguly and Dravid in a new avatar now

In June 2015, the new regime of the BCCI appointed a Cricket Advisory Committee, consisting of Ganguly, Tendulkar and Laxman to take Indian cricket forward. One of their first decisions was to make their fourth teammate from the quartet- Dravid – the head coach of the India A and Under-19 side.

That decision seemed to reaped benefits as some of the players from A team earned national caps while the Under19 boys entered the final of the World Cup.

After the demise of Jagmohan Dalmiya, the Cricket Association of Bengal were in search of a new President and on the recommendations of the Chief Minister, Ganguly was elected as the chief of the association.

In the few months that he has been on the job, he has shown fine administrative acumen, staging the India-Pakistan World T20 match in a quick notice in a very successful manner and now leading the way for Pink ball Cricket in India.

Both Ganguly and Dravid have had chequered careers and are now leading the way away from the field as well.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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