‘What doesn’t kill you, takes best out in you.’ This is the phrase what best describes Sourav Ganguly’s incredible innings against the Aussies.
Sourav Ganguly – It’s not just an ordinary name in Indian Cricket. It’s an emotion. The name still sends shivers down the spine. Everything that he did had it’s own swag. Let it be his talking or his captaincy or his implacable shots through the offside, everything had a special place in the hearts of all the cricket lovers. Dada provided many audacious moments throughout his career. Swinging his jersey from the balcony at The Lords, his 183 against Sri Lanka at Taunton or his hundred in his test debut at the home of cricket, everything has its own story. But if you ask me what is my favourite Ganguly moment, then it is this innings against the might Australians at The Gabba in 2003.
It was the first test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Ganguly won the toss and decided to field first. Australian opener Justin Langer scored a beautiful century to put the Indians into the backfoot. The southpaw smashed seventeen boundaries as accumulated a total score of 121. However Zaheer Khan picked up 5 wickets to check the run flow. Australia were bowled out for 323. Agarkar supported Zak brilliantly as he picked up 3 wickets.
It was time for the Indian reply. Historically India had always suffered at Australia. The batting was always below par. Despite not putting up a big total, the Australians were quite confident of taking a lead in the first innings. Against all the odds Virender Sehwag and Aakash Chopra provided India with a brisk start. But it wasn’t late before the Aussies started picking up wickets. After a 61 run partnership for the first wicket, the Australians picked up four wickets just for 66 runs, thus reducing India to 127-4.
The ghosts from the pasts struck again. It seemed like India would again crumble for a low score. But this was not to be. On the crease were Sourav Ganguly and India’s go to man in the time of crisis, VVS Laxman. Dada always had his share of problems against the short balls. The bowlers tortured him with bodyline short pitch deliveries. Certainly Ganguly was not comfortable but he was too determined not to lose his wicket. And as time passed, Dada found his feet at the crease.
The southpaw soon started playing strokes, his trademark shots through the offside. From being tortured, Ganguly started decimating the bowlers and hitting boundaries at his will. He slowly reached to his fifty but he knew only half the job was done and converting this start to a big score was in his sights. Nothing seemed to stop Ganguly that day. The accuracy of Gillespie, the inswingers of Bracken or the leg spin of MacGill, nothing took a toll on Dada. And soon he was on cloud nine. The Royal Bengal Tiger completed a memorable century. Delight could very well be seen on his face as he celebrated with a jump after completing his century.
Ganguly stayed for a total of 291 minutes at the crease as this innings included eighteen boundaries. He finally made his back to the pavilion after scoring 144 runs but before that he made sure India had gotten the lead. The duo of Ganguly and Laxman added a total of 146 runs. Ganguly got a standing ovation from everyone present inside the stadium. India were bowled out for 409 in their first innings. The test ended as a draw.
This was truly one of the best innings by an Indian captain in the test matches. Ganguly’s 144 will always remain close to the hearts of all Indian cricket fans. Thank you Dada for blessing us with one of the proud moments in Indian cricketing history.