Calcutta: Having been one-day cricket’s No.1 both in 1999 and 2000, Sourav Ganguly was looking to complete a hattrick last year.
As it turned out, the Indian captain didn’t finish even in the top-10. In fact, Sourav dropped to No.13 (813 runs), with pride of place going to Mahela Jayawardena (1,260).
For someone conscious of standings/rankings, it was quite a fall. It hurt.
Sourav, of course, didn’t openly talk about the disappointment but, during a chat with The Telegraph at the start of this year, more than indicated his feelings.
The hurt came through when he listed two “purely personal” goals for 2002: Being consistent in Test cricket (thereby arresting the dip in averages) and reclaiming the No.1 slot in ODIs.
Well, after Sunday’s unbeaten 117 (19th hundred) versus England, the Indian captain is No.4 on the list. However, as the Champions Trophy has ended for Younis Khan (870) and Marcus Trescothick (846), while the injured Craig McMillan (842) had no role in the tournament, the Indian captain has a great chance to zoom past everyone.
Sourav goes into Wednesday’s semi-final, against South Africa, with his tally at 840. Moreover, with seven ODIs versus the West Indies in November (at home) and two against New Zealand (in Kiwiland) before the year is out, any lead taken in Colombo will hold him in excellent stead.
Among the current leaders, only Younis will have more opportunities — Pakistan are to play ten ODIs before 2002 ends. But, then, with cricket in Pakistan seeing sackings every week, it’s debatable how many appearances he will really make.
The Indian captain, though, has to watch out for Sanath Jayasuriya (ranked fifth, 831) and Jonty Rhodes (placed seventh, 824). Sri Lanka, after all, are also in the semis — they meet Australia Friday. As for Jonty, he will be in action Wednesday itself.
[The sixth slot, by the way, is held by Yousuf Youhana – 828.]
With the race for the No.1 position so very close — in this, the World Cup season — even one ‘biggie’ from a Sachin Tendulkar (718) could recast standings completely.
For now, however, Sourav is on the right track. Indeed, with over 850 runs in 17 innings (twice not out) he has been realising his Test-specific “purely personal” goal as well.
Incidentally, Jayawardena’s 2001 achievement ended a five-year dominance by the Indians. Sachin was No.1 in 1996 (1,611) and 1998 (1,894), while Sourav topped in 1997 (1,338), 1999 (1,767) and 2000 (1,579).
l Younis Khan (Pak) 870
l Marcus Trescothick (Eng) 846
l Craig McMillan (NZ) 842
l Sourav Ganguly (India) 840
l Sanath Jayasuriya (SL) 831