Calcutta: The Gujarat Stadium in Motera, off Ahmedabad, isn’t the most attractive venue for Test cricket. Yet, it has hosted exceptional individual landmarks.
Back in February 1987, Sunil Gavaskar scaled cricket’s equivalent of Everest by becoming the first to log 10,000 runs. Seven years later, Kapil Dev became the (then) highest wickettaker, surpassing Sir Richard Hadlee’s 431.
Of course, no world record was set on Thursday, Day II of the first Test against New Zealand, but captain Sourav Ganguly and vice-captain Rahul Dravid — incidentally, exceedingly good mates — took a significant step towards confirming their berths in cricket’s Hall of Fame.
With the Black Caps almost down for the count so early, Sourav is comfortably placed to draw level with Mohammed Azharuddin on the number of wins (14). Doing one better will simply be a matter of time.
The two-run penalty notwithstanding, the captain himself played a big hand, being unbeaten on a smart 100 (his tenth hundred) at the declaration — 500 for five. By stumps, New Zealand were desperate for oxygen. At 41 for three, though, even that may not revive.
Sourav, by the way, is already ahead if the success percentage is taken into account: 54.69 vis-à-vis exactly 50.00.
It’s not that the captain is obsessed with taking the No.1 spot but, as he recently told The Telegraph, he is “fully aware” of where he stands.
While the wins under Azhar came in two spells (January 1990 till August 1996; January 1998 till July 1999), Sourav has been in the seat for a shade over three-and-half years only.
Given that Stephen Fleming has also been getting excellent marks for captaincy, nothing could please Sourav more than first drawing level and, then, overtaking Azhar in the on-going series itself. That must surely be an unstated goal.
As for Dravid, he served another reminder (via an excellent career-best 222, his third double hundred) that, by the time he packs up, he will be counted among the all-time great batsmen.
What’s remarkable is that Dravid’s overseas record is better than his achievements at home — usually, most batsmen seem to do better in their own backyard.
Specifically, in 38 Tests outside India, Dravid’s average is 57.28 (nine hundreds). Not that his average at home isn’t anything much to talk about. In fact, within India, it stands at 52.47 (six hundreds).
Little wonder, then, that Dravid continues to earn complimentary labels. Little wonder that many see him finishing in cricket’s most elite bracket.