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This day, that year: MS Dhoni and Sourav Ganguly’s contrasting World Cup fortunes

Sourav Ganguly’s India were outplayed in a World Cup final this day in 2003 against a dominant Australia but 13 years later, MS Dhoni’s side held their nerve in a tense game against Bangladesh in the World T20 in 2016.

cricket Updated: Mar 23, 2018 18:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
MS Dhoni,Sourav Ganguly,2003 World Cup
MS Dhoni’s India held their nerve and stayed alive in the 2016 World T20 as they defeated Bangladesh by one run in a thrilling encounter. (Getty Images)

March 23 marks 15 years to the day since India’s 2003 ICC World Cup dreams were shattered on the last step, following a 125-run defeat at the hands of Australia in the summit clash.

The Sourav Ganguly-led team was in great form after brushing aside Sri Lanka and Kenya in the previous two games, raising hopes they can stop the Australian juggernaut. This, despite the Ricky Ponting-led defending champions having had an unbeaten run into the final in Johannesburg.

Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar had a magnificent 2003 World Cup but the team failed to get over the line. ( Getty Images )

India had a subdued start to the tournament, but their only loss was to Australia in the preliminary stages in Centurion, after they were bowled out for 125. But the team with a mix of youth and experience had recovered well.

But the Sourav Ganguly-led side were on the receiving end from the moment the skipper won the toss and elected to bowl. Handed the first over ahead of the seasoned Javagal Srinath, the nervous Zaheer Khan was hammered in the very first over, conceding 15 runs after sending down 10 deliveries. Zaheer went for 67 runs in his seven overs while Javagal Srinath too felt the fury of Australian batsmen, conceding 87 in 10 overs.

Ganguly used eight bowlers, but barring Harbhajan Singh, who bowled a good first spell and took 2/49 runs from eight overs, no one seemed to hit the right areas. Skipper Ricky Ponting (140*) hit a then highest score in a World Cup final and with Damien Martyn (88*) stitched an unbeaten 234-run partnership for the third wicket, posting a mammoth 359.

It wasn’t the era of T20s and thus, chasing at 7.2 runs per over was indeed quite a task, especially against the formidable Australia attack.

Australia remained unbeaten in the tournament as they clinched the 2003 World Cup in South Africa by beating India by 125 runs in the final. ( Getty Images )

possible as long as their little master was in the middle. That bubble burst in the first over, Sachin Tendulkar trying to replicate a pull that got him a four off the fourth ball but finding a top edge to hand Glenn McGrath a simple return catch. The first over of each innings signalled what was in store for the teams.

Ganguly was sent packing on 24 and Dravid fell three short of half-century. Natwest Trophy heroes Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif too failed, the latter falling for a duck. Sehwag was the lone warrior, scoring an 81-ball 82, but fell after a short rain break, getting no support at the other end. India lost their last five wickets for 26 runs.

Tendulkar, Harbhajan, Yuvraj and Zaheer, who all featured that day in Johannesburg, would go on to play in another World Cup final in Mumbai eight years later, this time lifting the trophy.

There are a fair amount of happy memories associated with World Cup campaigns as well. It can’t make up for a World Cup loss, but the World T20I win against Bangladesh in Bengaluru two years back was unexpected and sweet. Bangladesh required two runs to win off three balls with four wickets in hand. India posted 146/7 and Bangladesh took the game to the wire, needing 11 off the last over.

Mahmudullah took a single off the first ball and Mushfiqur Rahim slammed back-to-back boundaries, almost getting his team across the line. What followed was as bizarre as it could get. While singles should have been just fine, Rahim and Mahmudullah went for the maximum but failed and were caught by Shikhar Dhawan and Ravindra Jadeja respectively.

With two to win off the last ball, Shuvagata Hom, playing only his second T20I game, failed to connect bat to ball and ran. Mahendra Singh Dhoni rushed from behind the stumps and dislodged the stumps in dramatic fashion to run out Mushtafizur Rahman.

First Published: Mar 23, 2018 18:35 IST