Workforce India gave an early birthday current to Head Coach Rahul Dravid as they beat Sri Lanka by 67 runs in Guwahati. It’s a no-brainer that Dravid, who’s celebrating his 50th birthday right this moment, is an all-time nice. His stats as a batsman and fielder converse for themselves – 164 Checks, 13,288 runs, 36 tons and 210 catches; 344 ODIs, 10,889 runs, 83 fifties.
Not many gamers have such an enviable report. So, Dravid elicits a special type of comparability, reserved just for ‘GOATs’. Dravid has usually been in comparison with his compatriot Sachin Tendulkar and to a lesser extent with Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman. All 4 had been a part of the legendary ‘Fab 4’ – the fulcrum of India’s Take a look at batting within the 2000s. Dravid’s 16-year-long profession was in some ways intertwined with the ‘Fab 4’.
Rewind to June 20, 1996: a 23-year-old Dravid made his debut alongside Ganguly and scored 95. However his efficiency was eclipsed by Ganguly’s 131. His debut Take a look at set the tone for his early profession — of usually being overshadowed by Tendulkar, Ganguly, and Laxman.
Be it 2001 Kolkata Take a look at, when his 180 was overshadowed by Laxman’s 281, or the 2002 Leeds Take a look at, when his 148 on a lethal pitch, was surpassed by Tendulkar’s 193.
The overshadowing of Dravid was far more seen in ODIs. His highest rating – 153 versus New Zealand – was forgotten as Tendulkar raced to 186 in the identical match. When Ganguly hit 183 versus Sri Lanka, Dravid scored 145.
The 12 months 1999, when these two innings had been performed, was additionally a turning level for Dravid. It was the 12 months he metamorphosed into a whole participant: the basic Take a look at batter, the ODI run-machine and the useful wicketkeeper.
It was an indication of issues to return.
Ganguly’s captaincy from 2000 to 2005 introduced out the most effective out of Dravid. Within the 21 matches that India received underneath Ganguly, Dravid scored 2,571 runs at a report common of 102.84 with three double centuries.
In the identical interval, although often overshadowed by Tendulkar, Dravid was in a position to create his personal area of interest. Between 2000, when he scored his first double century, to 2005, when he finally took over the captaincy from Ganguly, Dravid scored 5,305 runs at a median of 61.69 in 60 Checks.
In the identical interval, Tendulkar gathered 4,482 runs in 53 Checks at a median of 56. Laxman, with whom Dravid shared many memorable partnerships, made 3,677 runs at a median of fifty. However captaincy had taken the sting out of Ganguly’s batting, scoring simply 2,718 runs at a median of 35 in these years. Ganguly finally retired from Checks in 2008, with over 7,000 runs and a median of 42.
In that interval, solely Ricky Ponting and Jacques Kallis scored extra runs at a greater common than Dravid. Such was his dominance that he received the inaugural ICC Participant of the 12 months and the Take a look at Participant of the 12 months awards in 2004.
The identical interval additionally noticed Dravid evolving as a sheet-anchor in ODIs, holding the staff’s batting collectively and grabbing the wicketkeeping gloves each time wanted. Whereas he by no means had many blockbuster innings underneath his belt, Dravid scored extra ODI runs than Tendulkar and Ganguly – each usually acknowledged as all-time ODI greats, with over 11,000 runs – between 1999 and 2007.
The 12 months 2007 marked a change in Dravid’s profession. He fell out of favour in ODIs and noticed a dip in Take a look at kind, which continued till his retirement in 2012. Though, there was a notable surge in his kind in 2009 and 2011.
Dravid scored 3,796 runs at a median of 44.13 after quitting captaincy in 2007. The identical interval noticed Laxman and Tendulkar hitting a purple patch. The previous scored 3,698 runs at a median of over 51, whereas the latter hit 4,482 runs at a median of practically 59 between November 2007 and 2011.
Nonetheless, 2012 was a dreadful 12 months for the three gamers. The disastrous Australia tour proved to be Dravid’s and Laxman’s closing worldwide appearances, whereas Tendulkar’s kind continued to dip till his retirement in November 2013.
The period of the ‘Fab 4′ was over. However their legacy continues to be debated right this moment.
Dravid was not often called a sublime stroke participant. Laxman had a greater declare on it as he epitomised superb wrist play. Not like Ganguly, Dravid was not the ‘god of the offside’ who might pulverise bowling assaults. Not like Tendulkar, Dravid might by no means seize the creativeness of Indians on the cricket pitch. But, Dravid evoked sobriquets like ‘The Wall’ and ‘Mr Reliable’, which converse volumes in regards to the excessive diploma of belief he loved within the staff and among the many public.
Have a look at these stats: India by no means misplaced a match when he scored a century, aside from his three centuries in the course of the disastrous 2011 England tour. Workforce India was thought of a poor touring staff earlier than 2000s. That modified with the entry of Dravid, who scored 1,577 runs at 65.70 — a report higher than Tendulkar’s – in 15 abroad Take a look at wins in his profession.
Dravid was a match winner and fewer of a headline-grabber like Tendulkar or Virender Sehwag. His innings, both in ODIs and Checks, hardly ever made it to the entrance pages of newspapers. He was a workhorse who continued to pile on the runs whereas crossing many milestones that went unnoticed.
Maybe, two elements separate Dravid and Tendulkar – aura and longevity. Tendulkar introduced with him the unmatchable aura of a kid prodigy who made it large on the worldwide stage. He additionally had a 24-year-long profession, spanning three generations, throughout which he carried out persistently in opposition to top-notch bowling.
Dravid, although an enormous match participant, struggled in opposition to the simmering tempo assaults of South Africa and Australia. He significantly struggled in opposition to the Aussies, scoring simply two Take a look at centuries at a median of 38. His ODI report in opposition to them was even worse. And Dravid lacked the aura and charisma of Tendulkar. However with tenacity, method and temperament, Dravid overcame what he lacked vis-à-vis Tendulkar.
It’s also futile to check him with the Grasp Blaster or anybody else simply primarily based on statistics. Dravid was the quintessential partnership man who rescued Workforce India from troublesome conditions and performed a supporting function in a number of the largest private milestones of his batting companions. Due to Dravid’s strong batting, Tendulkar and Sehwag bought the licence to dominate the Opposition bowling. It won’t be incorrect to conclude that Tendulkar got here into his personal solely after the arrival of Dravid.
Dravid, thus, performed the function of an enabler in a staff stuffed with stars. He was, as Harsha Bogle rightly mentioned, “the wolf who lived for the pack.” That is how we should keep in mind his contribution to Indian cricket.
Comfortable birthday, Jammy!
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