The purists always maintain that the One-Day cricket widens the scope for wild and 'uncultured' stroke-play. Only a couple of men like Sachin Tendulkar got the nod from these tradition-bound experts.
Today, in a match against Sri Lanka, two more Indians Saurav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid joined the elite group through some enchanting display that provided an oriental aura to the World Cup 1999.India, after their successive defeats at the hands of South Africa and Zimbabwe in group "A" league of the championship, were condemned by a majority of their countrymen and the cricket world wondered whether India could regain their status by winning the remaining matches in this pool.
They got past Kenya through unbeaten centuries by Tendulkar and Dravid on May 23. Today, the game against Sri Lanka was yet another major hurdle which India crossed with consummate ease. Sri Lanka put India in to bat and succeeded in removing Sadagopan Ramesh in the first over from Chaminda Vaas with the score reading just six. But Sri Lanka's luck began and ended there.
Ganguly and Dravid made the Sri Lankan bowling look below average through some exhilarating batting. It was only in the fourth ball of the 46th over could the Lankans separate the pair that too through a run out. Dravid ( 145 off 129 balls with 17 fours and one six) was the man out.Dravid who was driven out of the One-Day cricket in the 1997-98 season made his critics eat the dust.
He was magnificent throughout the innings producing some extraordinary strokes that were purely from the book. Ganguly's style and approach ( 183 off 158 balls with 17 fours and seven six) must have reminded most cricket addicts some of the great left-handed batsmen like Neil Harvey (Australia), David Gower (England), Alvin Kallicharan and Brian Lara ( both of West Indies) who all are respected and admired for their silken touch.
Even the seven mighty six hit by Ganguly today had little or nothing called 'crude' about them.It was vintage cricket by these two Indians who set a world record by adding 318 runs for the second wicket. Ganguly's individual score is the highest thus far by an Indian in One-Day cricket. Kapil Dev's 175 was the earlier best. For the second time in this championship, India crossed the 300-mark.
They made 329 for 2 against Kenya and today amassed 373 for six.Seldom does a bowling attack in One-Day cricket come across such a huge total to get inspired. The Indian attack, which was found wanting right from the start of this World Cup made the most of this heaven-sent opportunity and pinned Sri Lanka on the mat. There was hardly a period during the Sri Lankan reply that suggested a possible recovery-act from the Islanders who could sparkle only in patches after 79 for four in 16 overs. Sri Lanka went on to make 216 in 42.3, A.De Silva (56), A.Ranatunga (42) and Mahanama (32) were the chief run-getters. Robin Singh bagged five wickets for 31.