Today, he turns 39. He is now the oldest cricketer at the moment. People normally don’t associate good cricket with old age but when it comes to him, he just keeps getting better with age!
This is to wish Rahul “The Wall” Dravid many more happy returns of the day in the hope that he keeps doing what he is best at i.e. be the ultimate run machine! Indian cricket has gone for a toss recently.Post the World Cup triumph, they are struggling to win a test match overseas and the team needs someone to step up and lead from the front. Dravid has done that countless times on previous occasions and will need to do it again. In the previous two test matches, he has been bowled three times out of four. I have heard people stating that there is a “missing brick in the wall”, but Dravid himself said that there have been really good balls. It’s not like he is getting out inside edging the ball which proves his statement. Over the years, he has always been straightforward and if there was a flaw in his batting, he would openly admit it. Now, I would believe him over anybody else on what he has to say about his batting. He is getting starts but has failed to convert any one of them into a huge innings which he is known for.
The next match is in Perth, the fastest and the bounciest track on the planet. Last time Dravid was there, he scored a monumental 91 which helped India win the test match. This time, he would have to do it again. Against a more potent attack and in even more difficult conditions, he managed to pile on hundred after hundred in England. So, there is every possibility that he can do it again.
But Enough of this ….As today is Dravid’s birthday, I am going to list out some of the best test innings that he has ever played!( I may not be able list out all of them so please bear with me!)
1)233 against Australia in Adelaide, 2003:
How often do we see a player who, after scoring the winning shot, takes off his cap and kiss the crest embedded? That’s precisely what this win meant to Dravid. The whole of India was starving to see their team win a match in Australia. The chips were down in the first innings when India were struggling at 84/4 after Australia had piled a mammoth 556. At that point in time, Australia were revisited by the ‘ghosts of Kolkatta’. The Dravid-Laxman combination rescued India from the swaps. Laxman made 148 while Dravid went onto to score an epic 233. In the second innings he scored 72* and steered India to it’s first win in Australia in over 22 years. After the match, when he was asked what this win meant to him he simply said that he has been part of team that have lost by extremely small margins and the pain in loosing those matches is enormous. He just didn’t want to experience that pain again.
2)180 against Australia in Kolkatte,2001:
Once again, Australia was dominating India. India was asked to follow on and Dravid had been out of form for a while. He was being criticized for being “too slow”. He was dropped from the favourite No.3 position and asked to bat at No.6. India were staring down at defeat when Dravid joined Laxman in the centre. That was the moment when the match turned on it’s heels. Dravid forged a partnership with Laxman that not many people will forget. They put on 375 runs to avoid innings defeat and then helped India set a target of 384 to win. Laxman scored 281 which was without a doubt the innings of his life. Dravid played magnificently to score 180. On 99, when he took that single he took off his helmet and pointed his bat at the media box who had written rubbish about him. No better way to silence the critics, is there?
3) India vs England, Natwest series,2002:
It’s hard to choose one innings from that particular series because this is the series in which the metamorphosis of Dravid took place from a good one to a great one. Three back hundreds in extremely difficult conditions exhibited his class. In Headingly, India were asked to bat first. The conditions were overcast and the pitch was damp which was obviously going to assist the quick English seamers. This is the only test match when the ‘holy trinity’ of Dravid, Tendulkar and Ganguly scored hundreds in the same match. Tendulkar scored 193, Dravid 148 and Ganguly 128. The Man of the Match award , however, went to Rahul Dravid. This just speaks volumes about Dravid’s innings. In the worst possible conditions for a batsman, he stood there like a rock, took blow after blow on his body but refused to give away his wicket. In the next test match , he scored his second double hundred of his career as helped India draw the match after he scored 217.
4)270 against Pakistan in Rawalpindi,2004:
Prior to this test match, the Indian team was attending a conference in which some university students were putting up some questions to the players. One of them asked Dravid what he was expecting from this series. He simply replied that he would like to score a double hundred. The crowd was shocked and thought that he was joking. Eventually they realised that this was no joke. Dravid scored a historic 270 which helped India defeat Pakistan by an innings.
5) 76 against New Zealand, 2002:
I don’t know how many of you will actually remember this innings. There was a new bowler in the scene who went by the name of Shane Bond! Along with Daryl Tuffey, the duo were ripping the Indian team apart. India were bowled out for 125. Out of those 125 runs, Dravid scored an invaluable 76. It wasn’t just the fierce bowling attack that made this innings memorabel for me but the pitch was wet and damp due to the rain that took place the previous day and also the fact that he had managed to score more than half of the team’s runs. Even after being dismissed, he was cross with himself for getting out in a clumsy fashion as there was too much gap between his bat and pad!
I am positive that there might have been an innings or two which I may have forgotten. In that case, I beg you to forgive me as I cannot state all his memorable innings, which by all means is not a short list! Now that he is 39, people will once again begin asking him when he is going to retire. All I want to say is that nobody would know better than Dravid himself when he want to retire. And quite frankly, India needs Dravid to play rather than hang up his boots!