While others found it difficult to score a century in the 1999 World Cup, Indian batsmen reeled them off. Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid had flayed the Kenyan bowling, and set up a plethora of records. If that was an unprecedented high in the World Cup, Dravid and Sourav Ganguly reached the pinnacle in terms of partnerships in all One-day Internationals (ODIs), when India met holders Sri Lanka.
Dravid, the accomplished technician, surprisingly set the early pace with a flurry of brilliant strokes. Ganguly, the smooth timer, picked up the cue later and launched a blistering attack like which had rarely been seen before. They were both revelations.
Ganguly was hitherto known for his silken strokes on the off-side. He was awkward, if not ungainly, while playing the ball – almost following it around – on the on-side. This was particularly marked when pace bowlers dug the ball into his ribs. There were no such inelegant jabs in this match. Once he cut loose, his big-hitting – straight and over long-on – took one’s breath away. One never knew the ‘Prince of Kolkata’ could hit so long and hard. It was brilliant timing.
Dravid had always been known as a copybook batsman in the Sunil Gavaskar tradition. He would often get bogged down, unable to rotate the strike. Here, on this true wicket at Taunton, Dravid went on an uncharacteristic stroke-playing binge from the very start. He played his wristy shots to perfection, with the willow doing his bidding every time.
Dravid became the second batsman in the World Cup to carve back-to-back centuries, after his unbeaten 104 against Kenya. Mark Waugh had achieved it in 1996. With Ganguly also scoring a hundred, this was the third instance of two batsmen hitting tons in the same World Cup innings after Desmond Haynes and Vivian Richards in 1987, and Dravid and Tendulkar three days earlier. As Dravid also kept wickets in the match, his 145 was the then highest by a wicketkeeper in the World Cup.
Ganguly’s 183 was India’s highest in One-day Internationals, surpassing Kapil Dev’s 175 in the 1983 World Cup. It was second-best in the World Cup after Gary Kirsten’s 188 not out in 1996, and fourth in all ODIs behind Saeed Anwar’s 194 and Vivian Richards’ 189.
Ganguly hit 7 sixes, equalling Vivian Richards’ World Cup record and Sachin Tendulkar’s Indian record in ODIs. Coupled with his 17 fours, Ganguly had hit the maximum runs in boundaries in a World Cup knock.
Ganguly and Dravid added 318, the first triple-century partnership in ODIs. The previous best World Cup stand was 237 between Dravid and Tendulkar in their last match. The highest-ever stand in ODIs was 275 between Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja.
Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid re-wrote the record books with their exhilarating batting.
(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011
Published in India by Sporting Links