Birthday Special: The Dravid I’ve Seen




Rahul Dravid

Rahul Dravid

Sometimes batting alongside with Tendulkar becomes the biggest dream for young cricketers. ‘You are watching the world’s greatest batsman bat, 22-yards away’ is their argument. Little do they realize that, when you bat with Tendulkar, the entire nation desperately wants Tendulkar on strike. This means you will have to play the role of a non-striker. Not easy as it appears to be, it  demands courage, concentration and selflessness. Here is one man who is doing the role happily for team India for almost 15 years.

Rahul Dravid made his Debut in Lords with his former teammate and dear friend Sourav Ganguly in the year 1996. The very first match he played summarized his career in short. He did what he is known for. India was down to 202 for 5 and the young men were given the job of nursing the side back to health. Ganguly went on to score a century while Dravid was out for 95. During the course of his innings Dravid displayed few traditional drives through the covers, gorgeous cut shots beating the fielder at point and romantic stroke-play that would have made the founder proud. But sadly for the young man, it was Ganguly’s name that hogged the headlines of the next day’s newspaper.

The forgettable 1999 World Cup in England brought under the sun Dravids ability to thrive in conditions that assisted swing and bounce. After involving in popular partnerships with Sachin and Ganguly, he finished as the top run scorer of the 7th edition of the World Cup scoring 463 runs. He also became the only Indian to score back to back centuries in a World Cup.

Following the match fixing allegations, India required cricketers who can make people believe the game was still pure and it was the case of a few drunken drivers who cause the roads to appear non-negotiable. As Tendulkar stepped down from captaincy, Ganguly was asked to lead the team, and Dravid was made his deputy.

As Tendulkar confessed recently, the team needed to put up a very special performance against Australia in 2001 to get rid of the ‘tainted cricketers’ tag. In the midst of 11 players, it was Dravid and Laxman who accepted the challenge. The rest was history as the pair rescued the team from follow on and made the side do the unthinkable: halt the 16 game winning-streak of the Aussies and also made India believe that they can still win the series!

Rahul Dravid: The Wall Of Indian Cricket

Rahul Dravid: The Wall Of Indian Cricket

Dravid’s cricket is defined by a strong technique. Great determination. Immense confidence.  Adorable self-discipline and integrity. Commitment to the team. Selflessness. And the most important of all, his ability to perform when the side needs him the most.

The roles he has been playing for the team are quite interesting. He has been an anchor for his side and has been a willing non-striker. In every partnership, he has made his partner look more attractive and comfortable. The word non-striker appears misleading but trust me, it is one of the toughest roles to play for a batsmen. It demands unassailable concentration. We have seen even the great Tendulkar losing concentration after a drinks break or after being a longtime non-striker.

Also the most important of all, playing a non-striker means ‘Subjugating one’s Ego’. In a career of relentless strive for excellence, he hardly demanded the spotlight. One could never forget the single he took in one of his best innings against Australia, at Adelaide asking Parthiv to score the winning runs, in the match India could have never imagined winning without Dravid. However Parthiv was bowled and it was Dravid who finished things of in the next over.

He played one of the most important roles one could have ever played in the cricket history when he volunteered to keep wickets to accommodate seven batsmen and four bowlers in the team. After keeping wickets, he had to comeback, bat and see his side home in a pressure chase. It was one of the reasons that saw India reach the final of the World Cup 2003, not to forget the role he played in crucial chases. He proved adamantine in the most demanding conditions and energy sapping situations. The number of times he has rescued the side from trouble are ‘dime a dozen’. He was branded as India’s ‘Mr. Dependable’.

Dravid has been the major contributor for India’s victory overseas. He scored 23 percent of the total runs that were scored under Ganguly, in the matches that India won. He became the only Indian batsman to score an each inning century after Vijay Hazare and Sunil Gavaskar when he scored 190 and 103* against New Zealand in 1999. He scored another each-inning century scoring a 110 and 135 at the Eden Gardens against Pakistan in 2005.He also holds the unique record for the being a part of most century partnerships in tests. He won two awards, ‘ICC test player of the year’ and ‘ICC Player of the year’ in the inaugural ICC awards for the year 2004.

Dravid’s name will go in history as an epitome of an unblemished and selfless cricketer with an extraordinary work-ethic, who’s milestones went uncelebrated, enormities went unrecognized and achievements got overlooked in a major part of his career. Yet the humble man never got sidetracked from his responsibilities and is still furthering his foot steps into unnoticed and unrecognized territories.

As Mr. N. S. Sidhu biography reads, “Rahul is a person who will walk on the broken glasses if his team asks him to”.

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Gautham S.

Author:

Hi Folks! This is Gautham from Madurai, Tamil Nadu. I’m 20 and doing my final year in Mechanical Engineering at Thiagarajar College of Engineering. I’m a self confessed Cricket lover and I have a great fervor towards writing about the game. In the generations I’ve come across, I’ve loved watching Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid bat. Besides writing, I have great interest in singing and I’m a great fan of Hariharan and A.R.Rahman sir.

I would like to be remembered as one of the greatest sports journalists who changed the way their profession is perceived. I set myself performance goals and believe in giving a hundred percent in whatever I do. I thank God for giving me an opportunity to work with sports mirror so early in my career. I also thank my friends who made me believe in what I do and gave honest comments about my writing. God is great :)

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