The Unsung Hero: Rahul Dravid

Posted by - Rohit

He came in as a replacement for the prodigal Vinod Kambli, unceremoniously thrown out of the game by the then favourite featuring Board. It would have been a tough task to replace the only batsman who was till date compared to Sachin Tendulkar and even stated by their coach, Ramakant Achrekar, as better amongst the two maestros. Then came the thin moustached Rahul Dravid. 13K plus test runs and 10,000 plus runs in ODIs since then.
Rahul Dravid, the unsung hero of Indian Cricket.


The only player after Adam Gilchrist to play maximum number of Test matches back to back. He probably isn't the most flamboyant of them all but we probably have lost one of the true disciples of the game there ever was. Throughout his career he has been the perfect team player. The perfect deputy.
His 95 at Lords was overshadowed by a gritty and talented Sourav Ganguly who cracked a 100 on debut. Even on ground breaking performances by the Indian Team, like the one in the 1999 World Cup his 145 against Srilanka was overshadowed by a 183, yet again, by Sourav Ganguly. Dravid came in to bat when India had lost Sadagoppan Ramesh in the very first over itself. His century against Kenya in the same world cup was almost dim and left unnoticed by a teary eyed Sachin Tendulkar Century who a couple of days prior to the match was bereaved of his Father. Hence Dravid is the only Indian cricketer to get back to back centuries in a World Cup Tournament.
India crashed out of the 1999 world cup in the super six stage itself and Rahul Dravid was the highest run getter in the tournament but missed out on a Man of the Series to the unreal, unconventional, superlative performer, the mad-man Lance 'Zulu' Klusener.


Respect

During the 2001 Border-Gavaskar trophy, Dravid was struggling to get his act together which saw him come into bat at No.7. The Australians back then were at their mightiest best with 16 test wins back to back and had also won the Laureus best team in the world award for this feat, the only cricket team to have won this Oscar of sport. That is when we witnessed the modern day battle where the Red Indians beat the Vikings.
The team was following on and when Dravid had come in we had a slender lead but were 5 wickets down. At the other end, VVS 'I-love-Australia' Laxman was all set to murder the Aussie attack. Dravid scored 180, whereas Laxman scored 281. The match was won with Laxman becoming the Man of Match and Dravid smiled and clapped in the background just being a part of the team that had defied all odds to beat the Aussies. Virat Kohli would have ran around the ground asking everyone (including the Indian audience) to "fu** off" and then would be reprimanded for calling the curator a bitch.

Between 2000 - 2002 India were struggling to find the right wicket keeper for the team. We did have good keepers but who were also absolute duds with the bat. Nayan Mongia, Sameer Dighe, Vijay Dahiya, MSK Prasad, Ajay Ratra. They came, they saw and they never came back again as Dravid decided to wear the gloves so as to accommodate the extra batsman within the team, Mohammed Kaif. They got their act in place in the first match itself against the pampered English Cricket team in the Natwest Trophy where the Indian team chased a good total of 272 posted by the English. Mohammed Kaif, shone with the bat with late blows. This team went on to win the Natwest Trophy as Mohammed Kaif played the innings of his life with a resilient 87 not out in the final and we finally came to know that  Ganguly was flabbier than what he thought. This team went on to seal their place in the finals of the 2003 World Cup and also in Sahara's Ambey Valley.

His double century at Adelaide was where he took the team home single handedly and India retained the Border-Gavaskar trophy, but even then we never saw an over the top exhillerated celebration in the middle, he instead punched the air and kissed his cap.

Dravid hitting the winning runs in the Adelaide Test Match.

His versatality, his flexibility in thought has given more to his team than to him himself. A man of his calibre would always think twice before asked to bat at no. 7 but Dravid has always put his team before anything. He would always shield away an irate Sourav Ganguly when he (Ganguly) would become part of an endless verbal duel most of the time with Russel Arnold. I guess Russel Arnold knew about Nagma just like Steve Waugh did.

Throughout his career, he has never been the kind of player to stand at the center during a team photo holding the trophy, never been the kind of player who would go bonkers about his feat, profusely abuse the opposition after having hit a century. But has been the one who would give a hip shaking, bum shaking Sreesanth a tapli (smack) on the head and ask him to at least act like a teenager because expecting him to act like a grown up was hypothetical.
He retired without having played a farewell match and held back sentiments of playing the one last test match in his country. No fairytale ending. Again, something he thought would benefit the team.

Still remember this Pepsi advertisement back then where Dravid would keep striking a ball which was suspended from a ceiling. That act of his was so synonymous to who he has been. He was overclouded by the flamboyance and the greats of his era, but these greats existed only because Rahul stood at the other end willing to be run out.

A gentleman, an orator, classy, orthodox, focussed, horrendous actor, the team player, the ideal cricketer, the real Hero. R for Resilience, R for Respect, R for Rahul.

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4 comments:

  1. Wonderful cricketer... with great career...

    I never liked him initially due to the pace of his batting which was torturous at that time..., and respected Saurav more due to his fast paced batting & the way he pulled up Indian Team when it was impossible for us to find a proper captain...

    Also the number of times he got bowled irritates me...

    Always overshadowed by Saurav's performance... in the initial career growth...

    But then when Saurav's performances were going up and down... he was quiet stable throughout...

    But then he grew to prove himself..., gradually... as the Gold needs to go thru continuous heat to show its real lustre...
    One of the best technically correct batsman.. I have ever seen...

    "bows" to "The Rahul Dravid"

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  2. really excellent post - u've picked up an insightful angle and highlighted incidents only the most ardent followers of the game would remember. the narrative is coherent and laced with examples.

    as for the topic itself, while i agree with whatever u've written, there are a couple of things i'd like to add -
    1. his captaincy, which saw the team recover from the lows of the Ganguly exit era, and
    2. a sore sticking point - his declaration of the innings when Sachin was batting on 195-odd - a rare streak of apparent malice from an otherwise flawless character.

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  3. Superb dude! I loved this.

    And surely R is for Respect!
    In fact my Favorite batsman, not for the numbers, but for whats called Batting!

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  4. i, self proclaimed Rahul Dravid's biggest fan ever.. was so glad to read this :) dunno y so many ppl never really understood the mans greatness.. m elated to see u did! Cheerz!

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