It was yesterday once more on Wednesday. Or, more precisely, it was a yesterday that had never happened.
Incredibly, given the number of times Indian cricket's most celebrated batting triumvirate has changed the course of a match for India, the IPCL ground in Vadodara on Wednesday was the first time ever that Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly all got over 50 runs apiece together in a one-day international.
It had to be special. And it was. There was Ganguly's typically nonchalant elegance, which got him 68 in the manner that has made him such a pleasure to watch in one-day cricket; there was Dravid, the born-again one-day batsman, with his steady 78 and then, there was The Man himself, with his unbeaten 76-ball 100.
Separately, when any of these men, among the best one-day cricketers the world has seen, gets going, they are a treat to watch. Together, they are a joy.
All in all, it was a perfect game for India as the old guard and the new (there was a flamboyant, breathless cameo by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who smashed 40 not out in 20 balls) combined to amass 341-3, their highest ever score against the men from the Caribbean.
It was always going to be a very difficult proposition for the Windies, who didn’t help their own cause right at the start, when skipper Brian Lara made another strange decision by opting to field on a flat wicket after winning the toss.
Ultimately, they lost the match by 160 runs and the four-match series 1-3.
Throughout the Indian team’s prolonged slump, Dravid had been saying that key players would have to come good if the team was to turn the corner. Here on Wednesday, it finally happened.
First, the batsmen piled on the runs, and then, the bowlers cleaned up the opposition. While India’s most experienced batsmen came into their own, the bowlers — ably backed by some wonderful fielding — reduced the West Indies to 83 for five in 17 overs to end the visitors’ hopes of an unlikely win. The West Indies eventually folded up for 181 in 41.4 overs.
Earlier, before the Dravid-Ganguly century stand and the Tendulkar-Dhoni blitz made everyone forget all else, Robin Uthappa started from where he had left off in Chennai as he drove the second ball of the innings from Daren Powell through mid-on for a boundary to open his and India’s account.
He cut loose in the seventh over off Powell and smacked the fast bowler for two successive sixes - one over point and the next over mid-on. However, it was Powell who had the last laugh, inducing an edge off the very next delivery to Chris Gayle at slip.