March 13, 1996. An inconsolable Vinod Kambli trudges off to the dressing room after the ruckus created by the enraged Eden Gardens crowd forced the match officials to award the semi-final to the Sri Lankans.
Three years and two months later, on this day in 1999, Kolkata’s very own prince Sourav Ganguly and ‘the wall’ Rahul Dravid, made amends for that epic heartbreak by scripting one of the most amazing blitzkrieg in the history of One-day International cricket. And, it came at a time when India desperately needed a commanding win after having lost two of their first three group-stage fixtures in the 1999 World Cup.
Sourav Ganguly & Rahul Dravid vs Sri Lanka. Taunton. 1999 World Cup
India’s innings had got off to a worst possible start with Chaminda Vaas accounting for opener Sadagopan Ramesh with a peach of a delivery. With the score reading 1-13, Rahul Dravid walked into bat to join Sourav Ganguly. And, what followed next was the most beautiful display of hitting one could ever imagine.
Dravid started off on an aggressive note, creaming sumptuous cover-drives, square-cuts, and flicks off his pads, every time Sri Lankan fast bowlers erred in their length. And, they erred on a consistent basis.
Ganguly initially played second fiddle to Dravid, who brought up his fifty with a sumptuous cover-drive in the 15th over. But as soon as the spinner came into the attack, the ‘Prince of Kolkata’ took over the mantle from his partner, by consistently dancing down the track and depositing the ball in the river adjoining the ground.
Dravid soon reached his second hundred of the tournament and he celebrated it with a flick over extra-cover for a six. Ganguly joined the suit in the 39th over as he registered as his maiden ODI hundred in World Cup cricket with a flick towards mid-wicket.
Ganguly went on to switch into the fifth gear after reaching his hundred and balls getting deposited in the Taunton river started to become a norm. The great Muttiah Muralitharan was made to look like a club bowler by the ‘Prince of Kolkata’ as he consistently danced down the track to smash the champion off-spinner for Brobdingnagian sixes.
Sourav Ganguly- 183 off 158 balls
Rahul Dravid- 145 off 129 balls#OnThisDay in 1999, a Sri Lankan massacare at the hands of the Dada-Dravid duo who racked up a record 318-run-stand.@SGanguly99 #INDvSL #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/FEizJUUtcE
— Yash Mittal ?? (@im_yash2307) May 25, 2020
Sourav Ganguly and Rahul tumbled a plethora of records that day in Taunton
Anything that Murali dished out at Ganguly, it was dealt with absolute disdain.
Dravid and Ganguly broke a plethora of records during their epic-318 run-stand. The duo went on to break the all-time record for most runs accumulated by a pair in an ODI innings, going past Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja’s 275-run-stand against Zimbabwe in 1997.
But they weren’t just satisfied with that. Ganguly , who went on to beat Kapil Dev’s record of highest individual score by an Indian, and Dravid, became the first pair to rack up a 300+ stand  in ODI cricket as India finished at 6-373 in 50 overs.
That record, however, was broken just a few months later by another Indian pair- Sachin Tendulkar  and Rahul Dravid  against New Zealand- and is now the fourth highest-stand ever in the history of 50-over cricket.
Arjuna Ranatunga was blunt in his assessment in the post-match presentation after his team fell to a 157-run defeat. He said- “Can’t cry and defend this performance. We played very badly. The three fast bowlers were really pathetic,”—- Arjuna was partly right. His fast bowlers were pathetic but so were his spinners!