November 10 marks a special day in the history of international cricket. It was the day when an international side made their comeback after 21-year long exile because of apartheid. It was the same day when another nation entered made it’s Test debut in the debut year of the 21st century. And on the same day, when one of India’s greatest captain spent his last day in international cricket as a cricketer. All these special incidents had an emotional impact which makes it even more special.
South Africa’s 2nd innings
Going by chronological date order, let’s start with the incident when South Africa burst into international cricketing scene once again. It was one of the most emotional days in the history of cricket. The last time they played an international match was against Australia at home, in which not just South Africa defeated their visitors but humiliated by handing them a 4-0 whitewash in 1970 at Port Elizabeth.
Two men who changed the history of their nations — Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela — with their powerful ideas and bound these nations in a friendship forged in the heat of struggle. The South Africans return to international cricket after 21 years in isolation. Mandela was set free in South Africa, which embarked a new exciting chapter. India’s invitation to South Africa served as a powerful boost in their return to the international sporting scene. A tour to the land of Gandhi only seemed fitting. When the South African Cricket Team set foot on the Indian turf, it was a giant step forward in international cricket.
A historic handshake between Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin and 42-year old South African skipper Clive Rice before 1st ODI of the series. It was a tour that changed South Africa’s cricketing destiny; waving the path for a new generation.
South Africa were playing at the iconic Eden Gardens, Kolkata, in front of a jam-packed crowd of around one lakh. Azharuddin won the toss and invited Rice and his men to bat. Kapil Dev provided a classic start to the clash by dismissing opener Alec Hudson for duck. Further, Kepler Wessels, who had represented Australia in earlier international cricket during the isolation period in, scored an impactful half-century, followed by Adrian Kuiper’s 43. Due to the late start, the match was reduced to 47-overs a side, in which South Africa could only post 177 for 8 on board.
It looked like a cake walk but the ‘White lightning’ — Allan Donald announced his arrival by tearing the Indian batting line-up with a 5-wicket haul. However, Mumbai lads — Sachin Tendulkar and Pravin Amre’s half-centuries under pressure helped India win the contest by three wickets.
Tendulkar and Donald shared Man of the Match award with a big smile on their face. The feeling of defeat never looked in the face of South Africans and the moment was summed up perfectly by Rice saying, “I know how Neil Armstrong felt when he stood on the moon.”
Further, India won the next ODI too by 38 runs and seal the series at Gwalior. Although, South Africa bounced back in the final ODI, beating India by 8 wickets by chasing 288 at Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi.
Bangladesh enters Test cricket horizon
Nine years after South Africa’s return to international cricket, another emotional moment came into the scene as a new nation named Bangladesh made their Test debut, who were, once a part of Pakistan as East Pakistan before 1971 Kargil War. A new dawn for Bangladesh cricket with the start of 21st century. Having made their ODI debut back in 1986, gaining Test status was a giant leap for Bangladesh in the year 2000.
Immediately after the news of Bangladesh becoming a Test playing nation, their board sent a proposal to England and India to be part of their inaugural match in the format. England’s schedule did now allow them to do so, while Indian board grabbed this chance and accepted the invitation to play in the maiden Test of the 3rd team. Previously, India had played Pakistan and Zimbabwe’s debut Test as well.
Moreover, it was the first day at office in Test cricket for Sourav Ganguly as captain of the Indian side. Along with Ganguly’s Test captaincy debut, 11 other Bangladeshi cricketers made their debut in cricket’s oldest and most respected format.
The match was played at Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka but this was the not the first Test at this venue. In fact, back in 1955, when Bangladesh was part of Pakistan as East Pakistan, the first Test at this venue was played then between the rival nations.
Skipper Naimur Rahman won the toss, elected to bat and posted a good total of 400 on board with the help of Aminul Islam’s heroic 145-run knock and Habibul Bashar’s applaudable 71. In reply, no Indian batsman could score century; courtesy to Naimur’s 6-wicket haul, but Ganguly’s men ensured a crucial lead of 29 runs.
In the second innings, Bangladesh were crushed by a combined bowling effort of Indians as they were bowled out for mere 91 and India were left to chase only 63. India chased down the total easily with losing only opener Sadagopan Ramesh for 1. Out of India’s 64 in the final innings, Rahul Dravid scored a quick 49-ball 41 not out.
End of ‘Dadagiri’
Eight years back, on the same day when Ganguly made his captaincy debut in Tests, he retired from international cricket arena as captain in 2008 — that’s what ‘Dadagiri’ is. Well, not to be taken negatively; the term ‘Dadagiri’ came from Ganguly’s nickname ‘Dada’, through which most of the Indian players used to refer him — meaning elder brother. ‘Dadagiri’ is a term which also means someone who bullies but it was Ganguly’s bold and straightforward attitude made earned the name not what the meaning suggests.
Having led Indian side in almost 200 international matches, Ganguly played his last match as captain in the year 2005 because the record books does not include that he also did the job of captain on his final day of international cricket in 2008.
In a wonderful gesture by the then Indian captain MS Dhoni, Ganguly was asked to lead the team in his final moments. Playing his final Test against Australia at Nagpur, India had set them the target of 382, which the hosts failed to chase and lost by 172 runs. With this win, India ended the series with 2-0.
Earlier in the match, Ganguly scored a brilliant 85 in India’s first innings. However, then he was dismissed for a golden duck by Jason Krejza in the 2nd innings.
Post-victory, memorable scenes came into action as Ganguly was carried on shoulders by his teammates. Ganguly emulated his famous celebration of waving his jersey in front of the fans, something which he did back in 2002 at Lord’s. It was the end of a glorious career of one of India’s best leaders, who has been hailed by many greats and his rivals too.