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The last hurrah?

It's not certain which number Ganguly will remember first after this Test. It may be 85, may be 15 that he didn't get or may be none. He may just be happy to think that he will not have to prove a point on the cricket field anymore, reports Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.

cricket Updated: Nov 07, 2008 23:46 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

A century would have made him the fifth man in history to achieve the feat in his first and last Tests and there is still a second innings. But the true value of Sourav Ganguly's urge to reach the three-figure mark lies in the importance of those 85 runs in the context of the match and the series.

When India started the day they had a long way to go and the former skipper had to play the anchor. His association with MS Dhoni, which denied Australia a wicket in the first session and produced 119 runs, might go on to play a significant role behind the outcome of this crunch match.

Many precious innings in Test history have not crossed three figures. Indian cricket has its own share of it and Gundappa Viswanath is credited with some of them. Rahul Dravid scored pivotal half-centuries in the Kingston Test in 2006 which ended India's 35-year wait for a series win in the West Indies.

VVS Laxman too has played some little gems including one in the second innings in Perth earlier this year.

After Friday, Ganguly can also claim membership of this club, having made an unbeaten 98 in the win over Sri Lanka in Kandy in 2001 before the 87 on a rank turner against South Africa in Kanpur last March.

It's impossible to ignore the half-centuries by Virender Sehwag, Laxman and Dhoni apart from the century by Sachin Tendulkar in this match, but the timing and gravity of Ganguly's effort put it in a special category.

It's not certain which number Ganguly will remember first after this Test. It may be 85, may be 15 that he didn't get or may be none. He may just be happy to think that he will not have to prove a point on the cricket field anymore.

"I don't have to prove anything to anybody," he often said of late. The reason why he said it was that he actually had a lot to prove. Not to himself, but to the world, the selectors, critics, opponents and sometimes people in the Indian dressing room as well.

While walking back to the pavilion, Ganguly raised his bat half-heartedly to acknowledge those clapping and then swung it down in disgust.

Labouring through the staircase leading to the dressing room, he did that again.

He can still draw comfort from the fact that while beginning a new chapter in life, he will close one that kept asking questions. Ganguly may say that he wasn't out to answer any critics, but he actually proved a few points that people will remember.