Sourav Ganguly picked up from where he was cut off in Ahmedabad with a fluent 87 on day two of the Kanpur Test. It was an innings that apart from being the highest of the match so far, more importantly gave India a slim 23-run lead at the end of the day.
The hosts were jolted by the wickets of Rahul Dravid and half-centurion VVS Laxman as South Africa threatened to once again cut India short, but Ganguly was unmovable. His first scoring shot was a lovely flick against Makhaya Ntini and Ganguly was soon crisply lofting Paul Harris’ left-arm spin over the field. He continued to master Harris all day with sumptuous drives through cover and firm cuts through the arc between point and gully. There was also a big six over deep midwicket. Few left-arm spinners have been able to slow down Ganguly over the years and his cracking drives against Harris were top-class.
Even against the pace bowlers, who were quite tidy in the first half of the day, Ganguly was excellent. The ball kept low at time but his footwork was near impeccable and he continued to find the gaps, which in turn saw South Africa’s fielding slip rather embarrassingly. Shot for shot, Ganguly proceeded to whittle down India’s deficit. His concentration was superb.
An utterly reckless shot from Mahendra Singh Dhoni against Harris, after he and Ganguly had put on 60 at a good clip to take India very close to South Africa’s 265, exposed the tail. Dale Steyn then took the new ball and Ganguly drove him straight, pulled to midwicket, and drove through the covers as the lead was achieved. Steyn dismissed Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla played a shocker of a pull shot and Ganguly decided to hit out. It led to his dismissal, but no one would begrudge him for he was the star of the day, showing application that no one else, bar Laxman, had. It was a fine knock and India would not have had the lead if not for Ganguly.