India vs Sri Lanka, ICC World Cup, Taunton, 26th May 1999
India won by 157 runs
For most of his career, Rahul Dravid has been overshadowed by the explosive batting of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. Which is sad, because Dravid has been India’s Man Friday who exemplifies the phrase, ‘Cometh the hour, Cometh the man’.
His epic innings at Taunton in the 1999 World Cup match against Sri Lanka is a testament to the fact.
Coming to bat at No.3, Dravid got off the blocks in a surprisingly aggressive fashion, despite India losing a wicket in the first over itself.
It seemed as if he had a point to prove. He reached his 17th half century in just 43 balls with 10 boundaries. In good nick after scoring a hundred against Kenya in the previous match, Dravid’s stroke play had a touch of class.
Though the track offered bounce, the short boundaries definitely favoured the batsmen. Dravid’s aggressive frame of mind took full toll of the Lankan attack, hitting them to all parts of the field.
But for all the aggression, the purist in Dravid could not be faulted. All of his shots were straight out of the coaching manual, in particular his drives and pulls.
He reached his 5th ODI century – and second in two outings – in just 102 balls with 12 boundaries. That he outpaced Ganguly, more acclaimed for aggression, in reaching the milestones of 50 and 100 was a statement to what he could achieve.
Even after completing his hundred, Dravid sustained his aggression, till he was run out for an unforgettable 145 – his highest ODI score at that point of time. The Ganguly-Dravid partnership was worth 318 runs – a record for any wicket by any nation in ODI history.
India went on to post a humongous, match-winning score of 373, in which Ganguly scored a monumental 183.
Always pilloried for defensive batting, Dravid proved emphatically that he was could play aggressively when required. His innings shut up many of his trenchant critics.
(Kartik Venkitaraman, a second year BMM student from Ruia College (Mumbai), is an intern with cricketcountry.com. He and fellow-intern Uttaresh Venkateshwaran are the Tom & Jerry of the cricket team)