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Sri Lanka v India, Indian Oil Cup, Dambulla

Ganguly landmark no consolation

Nagraj Gollapudi in Dambulla

August 3, 2005

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Dravid: 'We weren't defensive, it's just that we weren't able to convert the starts' © Getty Images
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Sourav Ganguly wanted to celebrate his 10,000 runs with an Indian victory, but unfortunately for him he could celebrate only one thing - becoming the third man to get to the milestone after Sachin Tendulkar and Inzamam-ul-Haq. "I still don't understand how we could lose a game after having them at 95 for 6," he said, "Chasing 220 on a wicket which is not easy to bat on, so it's a huge disappointment."

Ganguly didn't agree that India were scoring at a slow rate in the early part of their innings. "It is not an easy wicket to bat on straightaway with the new ball as the ball stops and we had lost a few early wickets in the early part of the tournament. It was disappointing to not get a big score as when I open I look to do that and I was all set for today as it was a good platform to go and get a big score and push the team up."

Rahul Dravid, India's new captain, thought that the failure to convert good starts into big knocks was the biggest impediment facing the Indian batting order. "We weren't defensive, it's just that we weren't able to convert the starts," he said. "People who were set couldn't take it further. We fell a few runs short and it was due to Irfan's [Pathan] knock that we at least managed 220. But we need to convert our starts especially in the middle overs and some of the batsmen need to bat in the end overs."

Dravid didn't see anything wrong by bowling the in-form Nehra for his full quota because he had to break the Jayawardene-Upul Chandana partnership before it was too late. "We had to go for the killer punch and since Nehra had bowled well and had two overs left, I decided to bowl him at a trot. We needed the seventh wicket but that didn't happen."

In the end the difference was Jayawardene's cool and calculated strategy. "We believe that we bat down to No. 10," said Jayawardene. "When Upul came in I told him that we needed to set small targets like five-over blocks and score at four or five runs an over. And whenever they got a wicket-taking bowler like Harbhajan [Singh] and Irfan we made sure we don't lose a wicket. We were lucky to get good runs against Harbhajan and then we saw that we had hit off with our plan successfully.

"At the 40-over mark we wanted to get to 160 but we were 176 after which it was just a run-a-ball for us. It was just a matter of taking singles from there and not lose wickets and we were lucky."

While Jayawardene's was the innings of the day, earlier it was all about another under pressure batsman as Ganguly passed 10,000 ODI runs. "It was a big milestone. When I started my Test career in 1996 I was thought to be more of a Test player and in the next nine years to get 10,000 runs is obviously satisfying."

Nagraj Gollapudi is sub-editor of Wisden Asia Cricket

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