The man who conquered the best

August 9, 2020

With 13,288 runs in 164 Tests, including 36 centuries, at an average of 52.31, and 10,889 runs in 344 ODIs Rahul Dravid is right there among the world’s elite batsmen

Over the years, the game of cricket has witnessed some amazing batsmen who were legends in their own ways. Cricket has seen the touch of a class of Don Bradman, the audacity of Viv Richards, the grittiness of Sunil Gavaskar, the dazzling stroke-play of Sachin Tendulkar as well as the brilliance of Brian Lara.

One name that should be mentioned with these greats is Rahul Dravid, fondly called by his Indian fans “the wall”.

He wasn’t blessed with brute force of Shahid Afridi, the aura of Imran Khan, or the delightful cover drives of Sachin, he possessed determination, and a strong defence that enabled him to conquer the best attacks of his time.

He was the man of crisis for India. He would stand like a rock against ferocious pacers and make world-class bowlers suffer.

He is the only man to have faced more than 30,000 deliveries in Test cricket. He proved to be the rock of India’s batting line-up in the late 1990s and the first decade of 2000.

With 13,288 runs in 164 Tests, including 36 centuries, at an average of 52.31, and 10,889 runs in 344 ODIs he is right there among the best of the best.

Who could forget his epic knock of 180 in 2001 at Eden Gardens against the threatening Australian attack comprising Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, and Jason Gillespie? After being forced to follow-on, the Indian ship had almost sunk before Dravid joined VVS Laxman to forge a monumental 4th-wicket partnership and help the hosts level the series 1-1.

When India started their second innings, they needed 272 runs to avoid an innings defeat, and they lost four wickets for 232, still 42 runs behind. It seemed it was a tailor-made stage for Dravid and Laxman to play miraculous knocks and pull off a stunning win to re-write the record books. They both played out the half of Day 3 and batted the entire 4th Day, scoring 370 runs together which eventually caused Australia to lose the match.

Unlike most of the subcontinent batsman, he wasn’t a flat track bully as he scored several centuries in SENA countries.

The finest hour of Dravid’s career came during India’s 1-1 drawn 4-Test series in Australia in 2003. Dravid was adjudged the player of the series for his 619 runs.

During the second Test at the Adelaide Oval, Dravid struck a scintillating 233 in the first innings and crucial 72 in the second as India romped to a historic win. In his knock of 233, he stood at the crease for almost 14 hours.

His track record on English soil also speaks volumes of his class. He scored as many as six centuries there.

After scoring 95 in his debut Test at the iconic Lord’s, Dravid went on to score 1376 runs at an average of 68.80 in England. In the 2002 Test series in England, he smacked 602 runs with three hundreds at a staggering average of 100.33.

In his last overseas tour in 2011, he acted as a one-man army in the challenging England conditions. He showed his master class by scoring 461 runs with three tons when all the other batsmen failed and India lost the series 4-0.

And to sum up his greatness in this small piece, let’s go back to India’s historic 2004 tour of Pakistan. With the series leveled at 1-1, India won the toss and bowled Pakistan out for 224 in the deciding encounter at Rawalpindi. In reply, India posted a mammoth total of 600, with Dravid scoring a staggering 270 giving India their first-ever Test series win in Pakistan.

Being a selfless team man, Dravid performed for India in times of sheer adversity. When there was no magic in Sachin and Saurav Ganguly’s bats, it was Dravid who rose to the occasion and dominated such bowlers as Warne, Wasim Akram, McGrath, and Brett Lee.

The man who conquered the best