Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Cricket World Cup - Memorable Performances…..7 : Excerpt from ‘The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011’ by Indra Vikram Singh


County Ground, Taunton  •  26 May 1999

Strangely, while others were finding it difficult to score a century, Indian batsmen were reeling off hundreds after hundreds in this tournament. Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid had just 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, when India met holders Sri Lanka.

After Sadagopan Ramesh was dismissed in the first over, Ganguly and Dravid sparkled. 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. Again it was brilliant timing.

Dravid had always been known as a copybook batsman in the Sunil Gavaskar-Sanjay Manjrekar 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. As he played his wristy shots to perfection, with the willow doing his bidding every time, he looked almost like a table tennis maestro relishing his forehand and backhand chops that had the opponent running hither and thither.

In terms of pure statistics it was mind-boggling. Dravid became the second batsman in the World Cup to carve back-to-back centuries, having hit an unbeaten 104 against Kenya in the previous match. Mark Waugh had achieved the feat 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 highest by a wicketkeeper in the World Cup, overtaking David Houghton’s 142 in 1987. 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 One-day Internationals behind Saeed Anwar’s 194 and Vivian Richards’ 189.

Ganguly hit 7 sixes, equalling Vivian Richards’ World Cup record set in 1987 and Sachin Tendulkar’s Indian record in all One-day Internationals, which he smashed against Australia in 1998. Coupled with his 17 fours, Ganguly had now hit the maximum runs in boundaries in a World Cup knock. "Once I realised the pitch was good for playing shots, I just did not think of curbing myself", said a delighted Ganguly. Ricky Ponting broke this mark, blasting 8 sixes in the 2003 final.

Ganguly and Dravid added 318, the first triple-century partnership in One-day Internationals. The previous best World Cup stand was 237 between Dravid and Tendulkar in their last match. The highest-ever stand in One-day Internationals was 275 between Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja against Zimbabwe in 1998. Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid surpassed these and re-wrote the record books with their exhilarating batting.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email

The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011

ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3

Distributed in India by Variety Book Depot, Connaught Place, New Delhi, Phones + 91 11 23417175, 23412567

Available in leading bookshops, and online on several websites.

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