Evergreen Eden holds pleasant memories for Laxman, Dravid, Kumble

By Qaiser Mohammad Ali, IANS

Kolkata : When Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman walk out to bat in the second Test against Pakistan, starting Friday, they will have a lot of good reasons to remember the Eden Gardens, while local man Sourav Ganguly will be eager to register his maiden Test century there.

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Even leg-spinner and skipper Anil Kumble has fond memories of his previous Test here as he took a 10-wicket haul against Pakistan in 2005.

By a strange co-incidence all four players have played seven Tests at this venue.

Dravid has had a fine run at the Eden Gardens. He has played 13 innings and amassed 785 runs with three centuries and two half-centuries at a brilliant average of 65.42.

In particular, his memories will go back to his 180 during India’s historic win over Australia in 2001. He was also involved in the match-winning 376-run partnership with Laxman, who scored 281, then his highest individual knock in India’s Test historic win.

That partnership helped India win by 171 runs despite being asked to follow-on and also ended Australia’s winning streak.

Laxman, who was adjudged the Man of the Match for his 452-ball knock of 281, has also played seven Tests at the Eden Gardens. The stylish Hyderabadi batsman has tallied 786 in 12 innings at a fabulous 71.45. He has also made two centuries and three half-centuries and held nine catches.

Virender Sehwag later hammered a brilliant 309 against Pakistan in Multan in 2004 to overhaul Laxman’s mark.

Ganguly has played 12 innings in seven Tests but has managed just 292 runs at 24.33 here. He has scored just one half-century and that 65-run knock came against Australia nine years ago, in 1998. The elegant left-handed batsman in his previous Test here scored 12 and 12, against Pakistan in 2005, as India won by 197 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

Even as he looks forward to his maiden Test ton at Eden Gardens, Ganguly is also on the verge of completing 6,000 runs in Test cricket. He is just 132 short of that landmark as he goes into his 98th Test.

Kumble, who has 573 Test wickets, too has some fine memories of the ground. He captured 10 wickets for 161 in his previous match here, against Pakistan in 2005 and has a total of 35 wickets including two five-wicket hauls and one 10-wicket haul in a match.

His second highest score of 88 was also recorded here, against South Africa in 1996. It was his career highest score then, and he overhauled it with an unbeaten 110 against England at the Oval, London, this year.