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June 1996. Lords. Two reserve batsmen got their test caps. Under duress, it was decided to try new players. The strain was due to Sanjay Manjrekar injuring his ankle and Navjot Singh Sidhu fighting with captain Azharuddin and withdrawing from the team. After losing the first match, Azhar was able to trust two new players because someone had trusted him 84-85, in return for which he scored three centuries in his first three Test matches. Much has been made of one of the drummers newly inducted into the team. He had come to the team before. He was expelled for a misdemeanor. For about 4 years. It was also said that the secretary of the cricket board brought him into the team using his power. He returned after hitting hundreds of runs in the home. Surav Ganguly. And second – Rahul Dravid. No role was made about it.

When Rahul Dravid came to bat, 5 wickets were seen to fall on the scoreboard at 202. India were still 100 points behind England. Dravid was the last drummer. After that, the team lineup was about to begin. If there was one thing that was encouraging for Dravid, it was that the batsman playing his first game was also standing at the other end. Sourav Ganguly, 6 months older than Dravid, was advancing towards his century. Dravid and Ganguly have known each other since they were less than 15 days old. Both had also fought together for India-A. The same thing worked for Dravid. When his friend Sourav playing the first match played comfortably, there was no need to put pressure on himself. Together they scored 94 points. Sourav scored 131 points. century in the very first game. Land of the Lord. What could be better than that in the history of cricket?

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Rahul Dravid is out for 95. Just 5 first century runaways in the first game. A simple socket behind the counters. The batting edge was very light but Dravid didn’t even look at the umpire. He immediately turned around and headed for the pavilion. This was the first sign of Dravidian principles.

At the end of the tour, there was only one name everywhere – Sourav Ganguly. Bengal had found a cricketer. The man who blew himself up saying “Maharaj” on the 1992 Australian tour, has now become “Prince”.

Rahul Dravid’s trademark innings of 95 runs almost doubled. But it was a great opportunity for Dravid where he had gained tremendous confidence. Then-coach Sandeep Patil came back and said the way Dravid was calm during the innings, it didn’t look like anyone was playing such a big game in their life.

Still, Rahul Dravid’s 95 runs were lost in the dazzle of Sourav Ganguly’s 131. Well, in the next 15 years against England, in total 13 test matches divided into 4 series, Dravid scored 6 test centuries, 4 fifties. All this at the rate of 70 points per round.

Ganguly and Dravid on their Lord’s debut (Photo: Getty Images)

When Sourav Ganguly was returning to India from this tournament, his flight was to pass through the Netherlands. Sourav spoke to his brother from the airport. Bhai said the people of Bengal are fully preparing for his arrival. A convoy of several vehicles was preparing. Sourav refused lakhs but no one listened. Sourav Ganguly had done what Gopal Bose could not do. Arun Lal also reached the Indian team via Bengal but his roots settled in UP-Delhi and Bengal never considered him his own. Bengal who had Tagore, Ram Mohan Roy, Netaji, Satyajit Rai, Amartya Sen but no player could pin them on the world map. But now Sourav Ganguly was there. Prince of Calcutta. Awaiting what vehicles decorated with flowers were waiting at Calcutta airport.

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Rahul Dravid came from Karnataka. How many players had ever given to Indian cricket by this place. Another had come. It was not a big deal. He had performed well. It wasn’t a big deal either. If the Karnataka-Bombay players don’t do well, who will? And that’s why Rahul Dravid’s 95 runs were buried in Bengali noise. As his wicket outfit was removed in the future. As his opening was suppressed in the test match, in which he batted an average of 42.47 over 23 innings and batted 4 centuries. Dravid needed a bit of preparation before coming to bat. He used to say that when the bat came in, the fly-half had to run away and hit in 10 minutes carrying a cushion. It looks like someone pushed him and sent him off to play. But the team needed it and Dravid came to open the stick. But at that time (in the first series), Rahul Dravid would not have been disappointed not to have been in the limelight like Ganguly. After all, he was the same Rahul Dravid who saw Sachin Tendulkar play a few years ago and was beginning to think of himself as a very average cricketer. After that, he started working even harder to improve.

On June 20, two similar powerhouses started play for India. The one who has modeled himself according to the needs of the team. And the second who put the team back on its feet at the most crucial moment and instilled in it the habit of forging ahead.

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