Sourav Ganguly proved the selectors right by shouldering the team's responsibility with a fighting 83 while Irfan Pathan struck an unbeaten century to dig India out from another batting crisis and help post 316 for seven against Rest of South Africa at Potchefstroom on Thursday.
Pathan slammed 111, his maiden first class century, but it was Ganguly who started the rescue operation with a classy innings after India were floundering at 69 for 5 at lunch on day one of the four-day match.
The day clearly belonged to the illustrious Bengal left-hander who overcame the adverse situtation bravely after yet another top order failure against the pace attack had left India tottering at the brink.
Ganguly batted for over four hours for his 141-ball knock, which included 13 fours, to bring the team out of a deep hole.
Later Pathan took a heavy toll of a tiring attack and reached his century with a massive six off part-timer JP Duminy. His bold innings came off 176 balls and he hit 15 fours in his 372-minute stay.
Ganguly, recalled to the squad after a gap of nine months, stepped in the breach in the 11th over when Sachin Tendulkar (10) departed and India, at 37 for 3, were staring at an all too familiar collapse.
Openers Wasim Jaffer (0) and Virender Sehwag (0) had not bothered the scorers and VVS Laxman (23) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (6) were the other batsmen guilty of indiscretion and expansive flashes outside the off-stump.