Bengaluru, Feb 6: Pegged back by two consecutive losses against South Africa and Zimbabwe, India needed to win all their remaining group games in the 1999 World Cup. [Kapil's 175 not out against Zimbabwe in 1983 took India home]
The team earned their first points when Sachin Tendulkar (who had just returned from his father's last rites in India) and Rahul Dravid powered them to a 94-run win over minnows Kenya. But it was yet an uphill task for Mohammad Azharuddin's India to qualify for the Super Six stage.
India took on defending champions Sri Lanka, who were also struggling in this edition with just one victory from three matches, in the next match at Taunton on May 26. For India, it was just not a match for they had faced a humiliation against the same side at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata three years ago, in the semifinal of the previous World Cup.
Ganguly's 183 bettered Kapil's 175* and is yet to be broken by any Indian
One man had certainly not forgotten the agony his country had faced at his hometown on that fateful night in 1996. He was still not a national cricketer then and got a call in the national team in the England tour that followed the disastrous World Cup campaign of 1996. And perhaps, he had waited for the moment for three years.
The man is Sourav Ganguly, who put Taunton on fire on that day.
India lost their first wicket in the first over and then it was all about Ganguly and Dravid
Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga won the toss and asked India to bat first. Chaminda Vaas got rid of opener Sadagopan Ramesh in the very first over when India's score was 6. But the Lankans could not predict what was coming even in their wildest of dreams.
Ganguly hammered 183, Dravid hit 145: India posted a mammoth 373
Rahul Dravid, who also made a historic debut along with Ganguly in the 1996 tour of England, joined the latter in the very first over and the duo destroyed the defenders together.
Even seasoned bowlers like Vaas and Muralidharan were toyed with
The partnership went on and on and even seasoned bowlers like Vaas (1 for 84 in 10 overs) and Muralidharan (none for 60 in 10 overs) were toyed with at will by the two young Indian batsmen. The next Indian wicket fell in the 46th over with 324 runs on the scoreboard.
Dravid was the man out with 145 (off 129 balls) but Ganguly went on with his devastating batting.
He surpassed Kapil Dev's 175 not out as the highest individual score in the World Cup by an Indian and was finally dismissed in the second-last ball of the innings when he was on 183 (17 boundaries, 7 over-boundaries). India posted a massive score of 373 for the loss of 6 wickets in their 50 overs.
Pramodaya Wickremasinghe was the highest wicket-taker for Sri Lanka with three wickets.
Sri Lanka were never in the match and lost by 157 runs
The Sri Lankans were never in the match and the early exit of their big hope, the explosive Sanath Jayasuriya, ended all their hopes. Aravind de Silva scored the only half-century for Sri Lanka but India bowled them out for 216 in the 43rd over. All-rounder Robin Singh took 5 for 31.
India moved a step closer to the Super Six stage with this win while for Sri Lanka, the World Cup was almost over. The revenge for the humiliating loss in the 1996 semifinals couldn't have been sweeter for Indians, thanked to the super-human batting by Ganguly which had even eclipsed Dravid's classy 145.