Dada takes his chances
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Dada takes his chances

News from Pakistan had started to trickle in -- injured Virender Sehwag was to return home. Immediately, expectations started building up. Will Sourav Ganguly be called to join the India team?

india Updated: Feb 14, 2006 02:51 IST

News from Pakistan had started to trickle in -- injured Virender Sehwag was to return home. Immediately, expectations started building up. Will Sourav Ganguly be called to join the India team? Will this be the Prince of Calcutta's second comeback from the same venue? But as the match went on, everyone had come to know that no replacement would be sent. A hope that flickered, died.

Bengal were in the middle of a run-chase then. Batting first, Jharkhand had posted 245 in at the Nehru Stadium on Monday. The ground was packed and the noise was tremendous.

The home team would have liked to believe the 10-12 thousand were there to boost their morale. But soon there was reason for them to realise that it might not be the case.

Left-arm spinner Sahid Khan was bowling from the pavilion end. Ganguly let the first ball go by. The second disappeared over the long-off fence. The ground, unlike the one at Digwadih Stadium, was pretty big The third ball had more height on it than distance and the long-off fielder was getting under it.

The ball was just beyond his reach. The fourth ball of the over was an action replay. The ball again had the wings to elude the fielder and cross the ropes. The fifth was hit with more conviction. It cleared the long-on boundary by a distance.

Ganguly had just hit four consecutive sixes. It was the 23rd over and Bengal were scoring at over six runs an over without having lost a wicket. Till then, opener Subhomoy Das was the dominant partner. He looked in total control right from start and with elegant drives off the backfoot and extravagant shots around the park, he seemed toying with the Jharkhand bowlers.

Ganguly, on the other hand, looked off colour, unusually sedate by his standards. He did sweetly time a couple of extra-cover drives to the fence but trying to heave one over the same region, completely mistimed the shot off Angshuman Raj. Fortunately for him the catch was dropped.

Ganguly was on 11 then. It was Mihir Diwakar's ill luck that followed with the former India skipper on 19. Ganguly hit a cover drive in the air and the fielder completed a fine catch only to see the umpire's outstretched hand signalling a no ball. You don't give players of Ganguly's caliber a chance and Jharkhand gave away two.

Ganguly reached his 50 with a six, the first one of the three that followed. He departed trying to hit another one over long-off and was caught.

Things changed after that. As Ganguly left the field, the crowds went out with him. The policemen followed and soon the mediamen. There was more action off the field than on it. Anyone sitting inside the ground would know exactly where Ganguly was.

He was watching the India-Pakistan ODI on television inside the police barrack. And spectators who had actually come just to watch him play posted themselves at every possible vantage point on the stadium walls to catch a glimpse of the star --- their backs to the proceedings inside.

Hardly anyone except the rest of the Bengal players cheered Das's outstanding knock. Hardly anyone noticed when he reached his 100 with a couple.

Jharkhand (Vardhan c Dasgupta b Paul 4, Kumar b Ganguly 17, A Hashmi b Bose 0, Tewari b Lahiri 66, Kumar not out 77, Jha c Singh b Lahiri 12, Raj run out 32, Diwakar c Bose b Ganguly 7, Lal run out 1, Tantubai b Paul 6; Extras -- lb 6, w 10, nb 7-23).

Total (for 9 wkts in 50 ovs) 245

Fall of Wickets: 1-6, 2-7, 3-62, 4-116, 5-140, 6-199, 7-221, 8-226, 9-245.

Bowling: Paul 9-1-51-2, Bose 8-2-45-1, Ganguly 9-1-39-2, Sanyal 4-0-17-0, Lahiri 10-1-39-2, Singh 10-0-48-0.

Bengal (S Das not out 126, Ganguly c Khan b Vardhan 72, Jhunjhunwala not out 26; Extras -- w 13, n 8, lb 3-24).

Total (for 1 wckt in 43.2 overs) 248

Fall of wickets: 1/159

Bowling: Diwakar 10-0-50-0, Raj 5-0-34-0, Sunny 10-1-41-0, Lal 2-0-19-0, Khan 10-0-78-0, Vardhan 5-0-15-1, Kumar 1-0-4-0, CM Jha 0.2-0-4-0.

First Published: Feb 14, 2006 02:51 IST