Ganguly marks 300th ODI in style as India fight back

Published: Monday, September 3, 2007, 6:34 [IST]
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Sourav Ganguly marked his 300th one-day international (ODI) with a man-of-the-match winning display during India's victory against England here at Headingley.

The left-handed batsman made 59 and shared a first-wicket stand of 116 with Sachin Tendulkar that laid the foundation for a total of 324 for six.

Then the 35-year-old made the most of Sunday's overcast conditions to take two for 26 in seven overs with his often under-rated right-arm medium pace.

His efforts helped India hold England to 242 for eight in 39 overs for a 38-run win under the Duckworth/Lewis method.

India's success in the rain-affected match reduced England's lead in the seven-match series to 3-2 ahead of the concluding London fixtures at The Oval and Lord's on Wednesday and Saturday respectively.

Ganguly has now scored more than 11,000 ODI runs at an average of nearly 42 and taken 99 wickets at under 38 apiece.

His spell as captain of India may have been overshadowed towards the end of his tenure by a series of rows with then-coach Greg Chappell but Ganguly's self-confident approach, and refusal to be intimidated by opponents, helped stiffen the resolve of the team as a whole.

Rahul Dravid, India's current captain and himself a veteran of 325 one-day internationals, was in no doubt about the worth of Ganguly, who made his ODI debut in 1992 against the West Indies at Brisbane.

"Playing 300 matches is not as important as performance. He has performed for more than a decade - that is a really big thing."

Ganguly's 79-ball innings, which included two sixes and seven fours, featured some trademark shots where his bat speed belied his slight frame.

He gave himself room to carve fast bowler James Anderson over cover and next ball lofted him over mid-wicket for four more.

Ganguly later launched medium-pacer and England captain Paul Collingwood high over long-on for six and then hoisted seamer Jon Lewis above mid-wicket with another clean strike.

His bowling then saw Ganguly enhance his reputation as something of a 'golden arm', capable of taking important wickets.

First he had Matt Prior stumped by Mahendra Singh Dhoni and then had dangerman Ian Bell well caught by Dhoni.

"Sachin and Sourav set a good tempo," said Dravid. "Both of them timed the ball beautifully, looked in great touch and complemented each other well.

"It is nice when two top players get you off to a good start that you know you can capitalize on."

Meanwhile Collingwood, England's top-scorer with 91 not out, paid tribute to Ganguly's bowling.

"It was nipping around a touch. With that extra bounce, I thought he did a good job for them."

The only disappointment for Dravid was yet another poor fielding display which saw India drop three catches, with Ganguly missing Bell in the slips off the batsman's first ball.

"Again in the field we were disappointing with the catching," Dravid said. "But it is nice to go to London knowing we have a chance to win the series."

Dhoni's six dismissals saw him equal the record for the most by a wicket-keeper in a one-day international.

"At one stage we were hoping all the balls went to him," said Dravid. "He kept well up to the stumps and it was a nice performance."

England's Ravi Bopara dislocated his right thumb and sustained a minor fracture after dropping Gautam Gambhir off his own bowling.

His side were without fellow all-rounder Andrew Flintoff on Sunday, out with a recurrence of his left ankle injury.

Bopara's setback gave England a fresh worry ahead of their depature this coming Sunday for the inaugural World Twenty20 championships in South Africa.

"Freddie is coming to training on Tuesday, as is Ravi," Collingwood said. "But the medical staff will assess them over the next couple of days and make a decision."

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