| Sourav Ganguly en route to his century at Rajkot on Friday. Picture by H. Joshi
Rajkot, Oct. 21: When the girls want to take a picture with you it would seem just reward for an innings well played.
Sourav Ganguly, however, would be looking for something beyond the snaps with women cricketers of the local Vir Bai Mahila College who watched him stroke a fluent 117 off 142 balls today.
A poster at the Madhav Rao Scindia ground said it all: “Ganguly come back into the India team.”
The former India captain would only say: “I’m very happy after scoring a century. I always enjoyed playing domestic cricket and this time also I’m enjoying it. A hundred is always a hundred, no matter it comes in which form of cricket.”
It is not important what he says, but what he does not say.
With two days remaining of the match, Sourav has proved everything asked of him by India coach Greg Chappell.
Sourav started the day in brilliant fashion. Having hit some scintillating drives on the off, he hooked and pulled with ease, which showed his mild tennis elbow symptom had healed.
That was in the seventh over of the day, with promising young pacer Gagandeep Singh at the receiving end. He was seeing the ball early and went after the bowler.
The very next over, North Zone captain Dinesh Mongia introduced off-spinner Sarandeep Singh, perhaps to tempt Sourav. The gamble failed.
Sourav read Sarandeep well in the first few overs and then smashed a square drive followed by a leg glance off two successive deliveries to reach his 50. The half-century came in 73 balls with 11 boundaries.
On completion of the half-century, his style of batting did not change. In the 12th over of the day, when Sarandeep pulled one short, Sourav’s answer was a six over long-on ' the familiar dance down the wicket and bang.
The ball had to be recovered from outside the ground. In the same over, his straight-drive whooshed to the sightscreen.
After a few overs, Sourav welcomed leg-spinner Amit Mishra with a boundary on the offside. His backfoot cover drive off paceman Amit Bhandari took the bowler by surprise as he despatched a good delivery by standing tall to reach the 80s.
The only chance ' from a bad shot selection ' he gave was at 86, edging a harmless V.R.V. Singh delivery to Mongia who dropped a difficult catch.
The century came in the 27th over with a single. At lunch, Sourav was on 109. He came back and hit another four off his legs, but perished trying to cut Mishra and managing a snick behind the wicket.
Opposition captain Mongia termed the innings brilliant. “It was exceptional,” he said.
Those who remember his 121 against Madhya Pradesh in Bengal’s Ranji Trophy relegation-saving tie last season at the Eden will erase that from memory and place this one among the top five.
Sourav does not agree. “This is my third best century in domestic cricket,” he said, putting the knock against Madhya Pradesh above it. Today, that is not the point.