June 20 holds a special relevance for the legendary Indian batters: it is the date when Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, in 1996, and Virat Kohli, in 2011, made their respective debuts in Test cricket. With 28,543 runs and counting between them, these three players have left Indian cricket a permanent mark — two of these as iconic captains — and cemented their legacies in the sport in stone.
Ganguly and Dravid made their debuts in the same match, at Lord’s in 1996, the second Test of that series against England. Oddly, Ganguly batted at 3 and Dravid at 7, a reversal of the positions at which they would score the brunt of their runs in the illustrious careers to come. Batting in the second innings of the Test, Dravid and Ganguly, both aged 23, would combine for a 94-run partnership for the sixth wicket, taking India from a spot of bother and towards the chance of taking a first innings lead over their hosts. Ganguly would reach his maiden Test century in his first ever innings, stroking 131 from 301 balls, including 20 boundaries. Dravid would fall agonizingly short of that maiden Test century himself, falling at 95 off 267, playing in his typical stoic, immovable fashion. That day at Lord’s has entered the books as one of Indian cricket’s finest days, heralding the era of legendary batting to come, with Dravid and Ganguly setting it off on the right foot.
ALSO READ: ‘But in Australia he has scored a lot of runs’: Irfan Pathan picks between Karthik, Pant for his ideal XI for T20 WC
Compared to their heroics, Kohli’s start to his career in Kingston was inauspicious, but at least he could rest easy in the knowledge that India came out as victors over the West Indies in that match. Twice he was caught behind cheaply off the bowling of Fidel Edwards, managing only 4 and 15. It wasn’t one of Kohli’s finest performances and doesn’t stand up to the feats of Dravid and Ganguly before him, but he was able to move on from one of those rare failures and stamp his authority over the international arena in the decade to come.
Dravid also played that particular match, on the 15th anniversary of his Test debut and approaching the age of 40. Now having cemented himself as a great of the game, he delivered as such, with a fluent 40 off 67 in the first innings and a century with 112 runs in the second, batting at number 3.
Kohli remains a central figure of the Indian outfit, albeit currently in a lean patch, and will be led out by Rahul Dravid as coach. Ganguly also remains significant to Indian cricket, now acting as the head of the BCCI.