Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Rahul Dravid – The Great Wall of India

Countdown to ICC Cricket World Cup 2007

Rahul Dravid completes our look on the holy trinity of Indian batsmen, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly being the other two. Dravid has been India’s Mr. Dependable for quite some time now. His stride to the middle always brings about a calm in both the dressing room as well as in the hearts of a billion fans. One can be rest assured that whatever be the situation of the match that he walks into, he will give his 100% out there on the field. It is no wonder that over the years his has become the most prized wicket in the Indian batting line up.

When he first started off he was the man who somehow seemed destined to be overshadowed by somebody else. He had a very impressive debut in England and missed a century there by a whisker. However people remember that test for the century on debut at Lords by Ganguly. When he scored his highest scores in ODI somebody else overshadowed him, twice! He had a hand in one of the greatest rescue acts in the history of cricket at Kolkata in 2000. Even that match is remembered for the exploits of his partner at the other end, VVS Laxman. It was one of those magical moments in test cricket when both of them batted for a whole day and turned a certain defeat into a miraculous victory.

He has always been one of the most technically equipped batsmen in the modern era, in an era when fast scoring is the norm and throwing your bat at all and sundry seems to be the only way to perform, Dravid stands out for his superb technique. It is but a reflection of the time he is playing that once he was thought to be a bit too technical and heavily criticized for his slow batting. There were even suggestions that he should only be played in the tests and be dropped for the ODI, which they eventually did. Thankfully better sense prevailed and before long he returned as a much improved batsmen. He later on became such an integral part of the team that he has now taken over the captaincy from Ganguly in both forms of the game.

Dravid’s utility to the team is unquestionable. Take a look at any of our major victories in India or abroad and you will have Dravid playing a major role in it. Be it the one at Kolkata, Headingly, Adelaide, Jamaica or Rawalpindi. It is a proof of his technical prowess that he has been able to negotiate the seam and bounce of foreign pitches. Some may not find him to be entertaining. But he gets you the results. Sometimes in pursuit of victory you might have to cut out some of the flashiness and grind it out. What matters most is not if you have entertained the crowd, it is whether you have won the match or not.

Dravid has time and again proven that he is a perfect team man. Who can forget the times when he would keep the wickets so that the team would get some much needed balance? This was the single most important factor for India’s successful run at the world cup last time. You can see the elation or pain etched on his face depending on the fortunes of the team. Just look at the way he celebrates when the team wins, it is a 1000 time more emotional than when he reaches a personal milestone. His commitment to the team is absolute.

Dravid as a captain has been less of a success than as a batsman. He has been found strangely devoid of ideas at crucial moments when the going gets tough for the team. Dravid by character is a quiet and restrained man. But on the field he needs to show a bit more aggression. Then again all this would matter less if he is able to bring back the World Cup to India after a long gap of 24 years. Dravid would know that a billion people will be rooting for his team, and there is no better man to rest our faiths with.

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