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
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
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
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
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
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.