Purist & gentleman – Frontline


Rahul Dravid, who retired from worldwide cricket not too long ago, was a connoisseur’s delight and each bowler’s nightmare.

AFTER enthralling connoisseurs of cricket for 16 years, Rahul Dravid has determined to maneuver on. The choice to retire from first-class cricket was, doubtless, expedited by his poor run of scores within the collection towards Australia.

With consultants and laymen alike calling for a revamp of the Indian staff after eight successive abroad Check defeats, together with 4 in England final summer season, Dravid, 39, selected to step down and make approach for others.

However in contrast to the time when Dravid made it to the Indian Check staff for the 1996 tour of England, there isn’t a worthy alternative in sight now. Dravid, like Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman, had been groomed in home cricket and performed within the India A staff earlier than showing prepared for the grind of Check cricket.

Give me mature gamers like Dravid or Ganguly, I will take them any day, as an alternative of those younger abilities’ that our staff retains getting once in a while, got here Pakistani skipper Ramiz Raja had mentioned in the course of the 1997 Independence Cup in India.

Certainly, Dravid seemed able to play Check cricket then. He had the temperament, expertise and an array of cricketing strokes to face out among the many record of younger abilities. His copybook methods on the crease, endurance and stroke choice may depart any rival captain and bowler frightened.

At Lord’s in 1996, with fellow-debutant Sourav Ganguly, who scored a century. Dravid himself missed the mark by 5 runs.-GRAHAM CHADWICK/GETTY IMAGES

Dravid’s organised defence mirrored how the person valued his wicket. How I want I may play the ahead defensive shot like Rahul does, mentioned his good good friend V.V.S. Laxman, himself a batsman of uncommon high quality. Dravid’s refined qualities have been results of years of onerous work. He by no means thought-about himself to be supremely proficient like, say Sachin Tendulkar, however made up with some wonderful quantity of labor in coaching and on the nets.

Dravid, with over 13,000 runs in Assessments and over 10,000 runs in One Day Internationals (ODI), would have been acknowledged much more for his contribution had he not been overshadowed by Tendulkar’s record-making expertise.

However not many could have cared to note that within the period when the 2 performed collectively from June 1996 to January 2012 Dravid scored 13,288 runs in 164 Assessments and Tendulkar 12,841 in 149 Assessments.

SECOND TO NONE

Dravid’s contribution to Indian cricket over the previous decade and a half is clearly second to none. His exploits whereas batting at quantity three are well-known however he has batted at completely different positions for the sake of the staff.

To assist the staff get the fitting steadiness by giving the captain the choice to go together with an additional batsman or bowler, Dravid donned the wicket-keeper’s gloves for 73 ODIs between 1999 and 2004. Throughout this time, he hit 4 of his 12 centuries in restricted overs cricket.

Like most kids, Dravid, too, was made to face at brief leg throughout his early taking part in days. He displayed sharp reflexes and held many reflex catches earlier than graduating to the slip cordon. Of the a number of catches Dravid held at first slip, the 2 finest remembered are those of Damien Martyn and Steve Waugh in successive overs of Tendulkar within the second Check at Adelaide in December 2003. This was additionally the Check the place Dravid hit a masterly 233 and 72 not out in India’s four-wicket triumph.

If there was something that disturbed an in any other case composed Dravid, it was a dropped catch. He couldn’t digest the very fact a ball may truly elude his grasp.

TAKING ONE OF his finest catches, on the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai in 2004. The batsman is Australia’s Damien Martyn.-HAMISH BLAIR/GETTY IMAGES

Consider Dravid and the enjoyment of his batting can’t be far behind. He delighted the purists along with his orthodox methods of run-making. In testing situations the place many of the completed batsmen within the line-up could be at sea, Dravid’s calm presence within the center stood out. His method got here to the fore in negotiating the swing. His footwork was instrumental in negotiating the flip and bounce. His shot choice and timing despatched even among the good deliveries racing to the fence.

Dravid’s contribution to India’s triumphs on international soil can’t be forgotten. He was a part of the Indian groups that received 15 Assessments abroad probably the most by an Indian. In reality, 21 of his 36 Check centuries got here on international soil.

Batting at quantity three, an vital place within the absence of standard openers for the higher a part of his profession, Dravid performed 219 innings for 10,524 runs probably the most by any cricketer. He additionally holds the world document for going through the utmost variety of deliveries 31, 258 in Check cricket.

HE WAS WEDDED to method in his method to batting. Right here, in Canberra towards the Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI in 2011.-MARK GRAHAM/AFP

Dravid was additionally concerned within the most variety of century partnerships 88. Amongst Dravid’s companions in prosperity have been Tendulkar (20 instances), Laxman (12), Virender Sehwag and Ganguly (10 every).

Even in ODIs, a model of cricket thought-about not appropriate for these obsessive about method and perfection, Dravid left his mark with over 10,889 runs, dotted with 12 centuries and 83 half centuries. In ODIs, Dravid knew his position effectively. I can not hit the ball like Sehwag or Tendulkar. My job is to maintain one finish going, bat lengthy and rotate the strike with out lacking alternatives to hit boundaries, he had mentioned in the course of the 1999 World Cup.

In the identical match, the way in which Dravid scored his first 50 runs towards Sri Lanka at Taunton to set the stage for an emphatic 157-run win remains to be contemporary within the thoughts. He performed some superb strokes to melt up the Lankan bowlers and went on to share a second-wicket stand of 318 runs with Ganguly. Although Ganguly prime scored with 183, Dravid’s 145 off 129 deliveries stood out for the craft it carried.

Greater than statistics and runs, Dravid will all the time be remembered for bringing in assurance and solidity to the Indian center order. He repeatedly withstood the strain of strolling in at quantity three after one of many openers had fallen cheaply. His presence within the center despatched the fitting indicators to these within the dressing room; his assured methods gave plenty of confidence to the batsman on the different finish.

HE DONNED THE wicket-keeper’s gloves for 73 ODIs between 1999 and 2004. Right here, on the Kensington Oval in Barbados towards the West Indies in 2002.-V.V. KRISHNAN

Dravid has all the time proven how sound method might help in overcoming any issues posed by bowlers or the pitch. It’s a delight to observe him bat, says Sehwag, whose explosive batting model delights everybody, together with Dravid.

Now with Dravid selecting to name it a day, there’ll clearly be extra strain on Tendulkar and Laxman within the center order, the place the likes of Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Cheteshwar Pujara and S. Badrinath can be eager to do what Virat Kohli has managed.

Dravid was an integral a part of probably the most skilled center order in up to date cricket. With Tendulkar and Laxman additionally not removed from saying their retirement, watching an Indian staff play Check cricket won’t be the identical.

By any measure, be it statistics, model or substance, Dravid’s contribution to Indian cricket was greater than substantial. When the nice fashionable G.R. Viswanath retired within the 1980s, Dravid virtually crammed the void within the 1990s.

Now begins the search to search out methods to fill the void left by Dravid.

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