Rahul Dravid bids adieu to ODI cricket
Cardiff: He may not have been among the flamboyant ones in ODI cricket, but Rahul Dravid`s determination and penchant to thrive under extremities made him a man for all seasons in the Indian team.
Having announced his retirement from the 50-over format following his surprise inclusion into the team for the ongoing disaster tour of England after a hiatus of nearly four years, `The Wall` stands tall with an aggregate of 10,820 runs in 343 matches. His Test records are equally phenomenal – scoring 12775 runs from 157 matches with an impressive average of 53.00.
As Dravid donned the Indian colours for the last time at the Sophia Gardens here, he left a legacy that will inspire the youngsters and will be cherished for years to come.
He may not have had an auspicious debut scoring just three runs against Sri Lanka during the Singer Cup in Singapore on April 3, 1996, but to his credit he scored at a healthy average of just over 39 runs in a career spanning over 15 years -- a success story in itself.
Initially seen as a liability in the one-day arena, Dravid retooled his game over the years to become an adept middle-order finisher, a high coming in during the 1999 World Cup in England where he finished as the top run-getter with an aggregate of 461 runs.
During the tournament Dravid also etched his name into the record books becoming the only Indian to have scored back to back centuries during the World Cup, scoring an unbeaten 104 against Kenya at Bristol before knocking a masterly 145 against Sri Lanka in the following match at Taunton.
Dravid, who became a synonymous to consistency in Indian cricket, has often been forced to live under the shadow of the likes of Sachin Tendulkar.
Whether it be a record 331 run partnership with Tendulkar himself against New Zealand at Hyderabad in 1999, where he scored a brilliant 155 or be it the breathtaking knock of 180 against Australia at Eden Gardens in 2001 to see India register one of the historic Test victories, Dravid has seen his doings being eclipsed, first by an unbeaten 186 by the master and then by a superb 281 by VVS Laxman.
His wicketkeeping skills allowed the team to accommodate an additional batsman, a move that paid huge dividends for India particularly during the 2003 World Cup which saw the side finish runners-up, but even that seems to go under the radar in final analysis.
Often criticised for a low strike rate, Dravid ironically scored a 22-ball half-century against New Zealand at Hyderabad in 2003 to register the second fastest fifty by an Indian in ODI cricket.
Dravid also has to his credit 82 fifties, a feat that is only superceded by Tendulkar (95) and Pakistan`s Inzimam-ul-Haq (83). He also has 12 centuries to his name.
Though being a pivot of the Indian batting in both forms of the game, life has not been a bed of roses for `Mr. Dependable`.
Replacing Sourav Ganguly at the helm in 2005, Dravid along with the then coach, Greg Chappell had a not so good time in the office as far as one-day cricket was concerned.
Dravid began on a winning note with Team India recording 16 consecutive successful chases but the side hit an all time low after making an unceremonious first-round exit from the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean and following it up with a loss to England in the Natwest series.
He subsequently drew criticism for not being assertive enough and let Chappell make too many decisions. The loss also saw him relinquish the captaincy with Dravid terming it a right time to step aside.
"I enjoyed the captaincy, I loved it, but it can get tough after a while and some of the enjoyment can go away. So I thought it was the right time to step aside," never the one to complain, Dravid had said after tendering his resignation.