Dambulla: Despite the wealth of experience, Sourav Ganguly must have had butterflies in his stomach as he took guard in international cricket after almost four months.
Indeed, for all his calmness in the lead-up to Wednesday’s IndianOil Cup face-off against Sri Lanka, Sourav made a revealing comment in a chat with The Telegraph: “I’m confident, but need to get past the first 15-20 runs...”
He got well past ' 51 (110 balls, 5x4), becoming No. 3 to take a seat in the 10,000-run club. Pioneer Sachin Tendulkar got there quicker, but Inzamam-ul Haq required many more appearances.
For the envied membership, Sourav needed 33, not 55. Till the video replay screen flashed ‘Congrats Dada 10,000’ few at the Rangiri International Stadium were aware of the milestone.
Sourav probably didn’t mind for, the other day, he said he wouldn’t “miss the attention” which was a feature of over five years as Team India captain.
“I’m happy at having got to where only two others have... I’m dedicating this achievement to my parents, wife, daughter and a London-based uncle,” he said, a bit subdued after yet another loss to Sri Lanka ' this time to an XI sans the biggest names.
Sourav added: “Forget the celebrations, I can’t understand how we couldn’t win after getting the first six wickets for 95... Personally, given the start I had, I’m disappointed I couldn’t bat through the 50 overs...”
He didn’t list the most satisfying innings en route to 10,000, but did say the “hundreds” in the last two World Cups and the ICC KnockOut/Champions Trophy gave “huge satisfaction.”
Sourav, however, made the point he prefers opening. “It’s at the very top that I’ve been most successful... I would like to bat there and, perhaps, renew my partnership with Sachin... Whether or not I get to do that depends on who gets the captaincy (after Sri Lanka)!”
It’s still early to talk of the innings’ impact beyond the day (not that India won), but form will help Sourav when the selectors meet to appoint the captain for Zimbabwe.
At another level, by top-scoring on his comeback, Sourav cocked a snook at the Asia selectors who are taking pains to emphasise his omission from the ODIs versus Africa was “unanimous.”
It can hardly be touted as an achievement.
Sourav took his time (there were, for example, 19 singles in the first 33 runs), but the innings’ disintegration after his departure would have silenced critics.
In fact, the wicket was distinctly more batsman-friendly when Sri Lanka chased.
Whatever Sourav’s views on the attention bit, he was to have been the cynosure, yet the Mahela Jayewardene-Upul Chandana duo upstaged him.
Jayewardene’s unbeaten 94 under pressure ' he produced an absolute gem ' got him the MoM award. The usually unsung Chandana, too, emerged a hero.
According to Jayewardene, they set “five-over targets” and surpassed their own expectations. Bravo!
Despite resting Sanath Jayasuriya, Chaminda Vaas and even Muttiah Muralidharan, Sri Lanka are through to the final and India have to beat the West Indies on Sunday.
That shouldn’t be a big ask. Getting the better of Sri Lanka certainly is. It’s with reason that Rahul Dravid is worried: Scoring too few and conceding too many.
Tom Moody wasn’t considered good enough to coach India, but his team is making more than the odd point. At our expense, of course.