Sourav Ganguly: When the legend announced himself to the grandest stage with a dazzling 131

Not many were in favour of him getting the Test cap, Sourav Ganguly was making a comeback to the Indian side after an exile of five years. One Test loss and a rift between Navjot Sidhu and captain Mohammad Azharuddin which saw the former leave for home, led to Ganguly earning his maiden Test cap.

On this day, 19-years-back, Ganguly stroked a splendid 131 on this Test debut. In fact, it was his maiden Test innings. The 1996 Lord’s Test between England and India also was umpire Dickie Bird’s last appearance. England had put up 344 and Ganguly with his medium pace had picked up the key wickets of Nasser Hussain and Graeme Hick. Coming out to bat at 25 for one, Ganguly batted till stumps on day two and remained unbeaten on 26.

The conditions of day three were ideal for seam bowling and England had picked four of them. ‘God of off-side’, as Ganguly was later called, was up to the challenge as he found the off-side boundaries with ease. The innings was a treat to the eyes. He later drove pacer Dominic Cork through the covers to become the third batsman to score a century on debut at Lord’s.

Ganguly added 94 with the other debutant Rahul Dravid, who too went on to score 95 in his maiden innings. Ganguly scored 131, an innings that contained 20 boundaries. The match ended in a draw and in the next Test at Trent Bridge, Ganguly stroked 136 and 48.

Two Indian legends – Ganguly and Dravid announced themselves at the biggest stage during this tour and went on to serve Indian cricket for many more years.