Forbidden fruit at Eden - Sourav cracks 11-year jinx as centuries rain

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  • Published 2.12.07

Dec. 1: The first runs in Sourav Ganguly’s quest for his maiden India hundred at the Eden were, of course, scored yesterday.

November 30 is actually a special date for Sourav as it was exactly a year ago that he made his comeback, when he was picked for the demanding Test series in South Africa.

Sourav’s 14th Test hundred (102), therefore, can be seen as celebrating a year of being back on the biggest stage. A happening which, for most, had looked highly unlikely when Greg Chappell was calling all the shots.

Just as getting the Test captaincy at 37 has added “zing” to Anil Kumble’s career, Sourav’s latest hundred is bound to whet his appetite for the challenges ahead.

As significant, the hundred has bolstered the oldies’ cause and, for some time at least, those obsessed with age are going to shut up. At 35, Sourav is the oldest in the quartet of batsmen which also features Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman.

All, by the way, made handsome contributions to Team India’s first innings: Sachin and Dravid got fifties, Laxman remained unbeaten on 112.

Sourav, however, needed four years to take a hundred off one of the top teams. He did post three-figure innings in Bulawayo (September 2005) and Chittagong (May 2007), but the last big one had been against Australia — 144 in Brisbane.

There were other achievements to applaud on Day II of the second Test versus Pakistan, but Sourav’s hundred made the day for a distinctly bigger turnout here.

“It feels nice to get a hundred anywhere, but it’s different at the Eden because I’ve played all my life at this ground.… To have ended without a Test hundred here would have been disappointing,” Sourav said during an interaction with the media.

He added: “It has taken the burden off my shoulder…. I’m glad it happened today.”

Sourav, whose first appearance in the India cap at the Eden was 11 years ago, looked for “value” in shot-making and treated every ball on merit.

Basic stuff, yes, but very effective.

The ongoing Test may well be Sourav’s last India appearance here, which is why the effort (coupled with handsome performances from others, too, it encouraged Kumble to declare at an awesome 616 for five) will be special.

Despite the pressure of playing on home turf, Sourav had been pretty relaxed in the lead-up to the Test. “I hope fans get to see good cricket and, more important, another Indian win,” he told The Telegraph.

Sourav’s hundred has helped put Team India on that path. At stumps (50 for one), the visitors were desperately in need of divine intervention.

Few gave Pakistan much of a chance when the Shoaib Maliks landed a month ago. Since then, their ratings have plunged even more.