Just under 16 summers ago, a tempestuous Bengali, with a cover-drive to die for, and a batsman from Karnataka, with the will and calm of a monk, made their Test debut at the home of cricket, Lord's, in some style one might add, with one getting a century and the other falling five runs short.
In the years that followed, they suited up for 113 Tests and 256 ODIs together. On Sunday, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid will almost certainly be seen on the same cricket field for the last time, and unlike that debut, they will be opponents.The Pune owners have made it clear that they want Ganguly as mentor next season, and after his decision to 'rest' himself in the previous match, speculation is rife that he may have played his last match for the franchise. The man expelled all such doubts and said he would return for the match against the Royals, and the final two matches after that.
As India captain, Ganguly threw his weight behind Greg Chappell's appointment as coach, only to find out through a leaked e-mail that Chappell wanted his removal. The subsequent fallout led to the end of Ganguly's stint as skipper, for a brief while it also led to his ouster from the national team.
He fought back, only to be politely told by the BCCI that his time was up. After a triumphant final Test against Australia, he called time on his international career.
There's been a similar trend in his IPL career, when KKR co-owner Shah Rukh Khan decided not to retain him for IPL IV. Subroto Roy stepped in, and midway through last season, Pune signed the 39-year-old. He was even made the captain for this season after Yuvraj Singh was ruled out. However, now that the owners have seemingly made up their mind, and it would take a brave man to put money on Ganguly padding up next season.
Unlike Ganguly, Dravid's Royals are still in the hunt for the eliminators and he has been better with the bat, scoring 397 runs to Ganguly's 261. He's also led the team astutely. Their fortunes maybe as contrasting as their batting styles, but the chance of seeing these two pillars of Indian cricket square off for possibly the last time makes this match a must watch.