When Sourav Ganguly opted to bat on a green wicket at Headingley, eyebrows were raised. Many were of the opinion that Ganguly had potentially written the script for an Indian loss after choosing to bat under bowler-friendly conditions in Leeds. However, as it turned out, the Indian team defied the odds to register a famous innings victory over the hosts, eventually drawing the four-match series 1-1.
It was a Test remembered for the centuries from the stalwarts of Indian batting lineup at the time - Rahul Dravid (148), Sachin Tendulkar (193) and Ganguly (128), but another contribution which is often overshadowed among the centuions remains that of Sanjay Bangar (68), who opened the batting alongside Virender Sehwag.
The swashbuckling Sehwag was dismissed early in the Indian innings and the conditions were relatively difficult for batting during the opening hours of the game. However, Bangar, alongside Dravid, faced the English bowlers with enormous grit and patience. He faced 236 deliveries for his 68, setting the platform for the other Indian batsmen to dominate the hosts' bowling attack.
Interestingly, Bangar got a chance in the Test as he provided an additional bowling option. “I always knew Headingley would be my best bet to get into the team. That was because I thought my bowling would be suited to the conditions prevalent there. It is only because of my bowling that I got a chance to play that Test. And I feel really sorry for [SS] Das (who had scored a double century in a tour match) because he is a good mate and I also know that he had realised that his chance was gone only because he doesn’t bowl," Bangar had said in an interview with Rediff.
India bowled England out on 273 in the first innings, with the spin-duo of Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble taking six wickets between them - three-a-piece.
Ganguly enforced a follow-on and the hosts were bowled out 46 runs short. England captain Nasser Hussain led the fight for the side with a century but failed to save England from an innings defeat. Kumble took four wickets, while Bangar also shined with the ball, taking crucial wickets of Mark Butcher and John Crawley.