Not remembered exactly,but It was the year either 2000 or 2001. I was watching a crucial cricket match of team India. I was very much excited to watch Indian batting. Saurav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar started Indian inning. My heart was pulsating with bang when this pair came on field to bat. I could feel the sensation of my heartbeats thousand times when Saurav Ganguly blinked his eyes continuously while a ball delivered to him. Same way I could feel anxiety when a ball was dropped from bowler’s hand and moving toward Tendulkar. After few overs, Sachin Tendulkar became out and I got shocked with the failure of my favorite player. After Sachin, Rahul Dravid came at number three for batting. Now environment changed completely. I got relaxed; my heartbeats became normal; no more fear, anxiety or tension to me because the Great wall of India was there on pitch. No more wicket would get down easily from one end at least and runs will deposit with steady but consistent rate. This is the charisma of this great player Rahul Dravid; Hear I jotted down such facts about Mr. Dependable of team India that never mentioned in any record book –
1. When Sachin Tendulkar bats, millions of hearts spark rapidly with expectation, excitement and anxiety because anything can be happened on next ball. But when Rahul Dravid bats, millions of hearts relaxed and rejoiced with classic batting and assurance of constant run rate and safety of wicket. (Darvid cares about heart patients:) )
2. When Mahendra Singh Dhoni became captain of team India, he found the option for every player but he didn’t get any alternative of Rahul Dravid. Because there is no alternative of Great wall of India; he is the unique gem of Indian cricket. So what Dhoni did? he changed his own batting style and tried his best to fill Dravid’s space.
3. Dravid dares to play and perform when situations are not in favour but at the same time he denies to be in spotlight when situations favours his team. He leads from the front at field in critical situations but he loves to accomplish his job silently and give opportunity to play, perform and shine others in easy time. This is the majesty of this great gentle man.
4. Dravid’s real contribution to team is never apparent on scoreboard. If you really want to sense his spirit and dedication, you have to watch complete match. During balling session, he was there on field either in the role of ever-time busy wicketkeeper or a cautious fielder at slip position. During batting, he batted twenty to thirty over (out of fifty)in almost every match and that too with rotating strike on almost every ball. So he was the man at work for seventy five to eighty percent time of total match duration in every match. Such a great spirit ! …but unfortunately the credit he received at the end was always less in compare to his efforts.
5. One ball is enough to out a batsman. But why that ball came after thirty five or fourty overs for Dravid until he finished his job and commitment toward team. In test matches also Dravid usually never left the field until make a half century. May be God also want to see the classic traditional batting of this great cricketer in every match !
6. Dravid is not the player who works only in few matches and change the game in the favour of his team with extra ordinary efforts. But he is the player who keep his team in the match till last moment with his natural style and consistency in any situation and every match.
7. There is not much excitement on Dravid’s face when he raised his bat after making century or half century because this is not the way he cherished. The real celebration of him resided in the moment when he took off helmet after batting for an hour; the continuous flow of sweat says all about his strength and struggle with which he faced every ball with stealing a single and keeping wicket safe.
8. Try to Remember two great innings – First, 281 runs of VVS Laxman at Eden garden test against Australia in 2001. Second, 183 runs of Saurav Ganguly against SriLanka in 1999 world cup at England. Rahul Dravid is the common thing in both innings. Dravid was the batsman who stood with Ganguly/Laxman and gave them a chance to play their lifetime inning…and yes Dravid not only stood there, he also made 180 runs against Australia and 145 against SriLanka. One more common thing is that Dravid became run out at both occasions.Laxman and Ganguly played such inning only once in their lifetime but Dravid showed such commitment in almost every match, sometime he got support from other end and created strong foundation of Indian inning and sometimes he stood all alone there fighting and struggling with every ball and wicket.
9. Great leaders silently drive people with their actions and efforts. On field, Rahul Dravid always drives his partner to play and perform. He gives fair chance to play to others and at the same time he also teach and motivate them with his classic batting style. When Rahul dravid is there at non-striker end, other players can play their natural game without worrying about wicket and run rate. Dravid made wonderful partnership with almost all batsman of his time. Sachin and Ganguly got chance to play and shine many times under his partnership. Players like Yuvraj, Dhoni, Laxman, Raina, Gambheer…played, grown and blossomed when they got chance to face the ball on field with Dravid.
10. Its very easy to gear up run rate and score fast for three overs but its tough to bat thirty overs with maintaining same run rate and keeping wicket safe. Sehwag, Sachin, Ganguly, Dhoni, Raina, Pathan, Yuvraj…all have ability to draw big shots and collect more runs on lesser number of balls, but only Dravid knows the art to bat twenty to thirty overs without throwing wicket and maintaining run rate and that too in every match. The player like him comes up with guarantee to accomplish his job in any situation and every match.
11. Dravid plays like the ‘knight’ piece (horse) of chess game. This piece has limited capability of two and half speed but this piece is like the trump card for king. With the constant speed and continuous effort, this piece turns the face of game anytime without let opponents know.
12. Captaincy and injury never broke the consistency of this player. Rahul rarely missed any match or tour due to any injury (wonders how?… God also don’t want to pause his consistency). Mohd. Azaharuddin, Saurav Gangualy, Sachin Tendulkar…batting performance of everyone declined under the burden of captaincy. Even Mahendra Singh Dhoni also changed his batting style after getting the captain’s cap. But Dravid’s performance never hurted with this overhead. He played with same spirit and consistency during his leading period. It was just his bad luck that team India exited from world cup 2007 in just three matches (and out of those three, one was won by team) and this gentle man took the complete responsibility of this defeat and resigned from captaincy.
13. Whenever Sachin Tendulkar got the Man of the Match award, he gave credit to team effort. But to be very true, it was the team and Dravid effort that made team India won the match…because Dravid was always there behind every win of India.
14. I indeed feel that 2011 world cup win is the fruit of what the three legends serving to Indian cricket from decade – Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid. They are the source of inspiration for youngsters…They are the father of revolution in Indian cricket. Sehwag, Dhoni, Zaheer, Harbhajan, Yuvraj, Kaif, Raina, Irfan…list is too long to mention the name of the talents who came, grown and shined under the company of these three legends.
15. Simplicity and gentleness are key characteristics of Dravid. Slanging, abusing, disrespect of umpire, mess with opponent player…Dravid never came on field for it. He very well knows what he has to do and he is very consistent to accomplish that in any situation. Rahul…how can be you so cool and consistent ?
16. Dravid, we like you, not just because you are a great player, and your classic batting style is unique and marvelous in world; also its not just because you added thousands of runs in test and one day cricket. We like you for strength with which who stood there holding one end when no one was able to play; we like you for struggle you did for stealing single run with keeping your wicket safe; we like you for patience with which you waited for a loose ball to come, and last but not least we like you for spirit and dedication with which you performed in every match even when you didn’t get credit you indeed deserved.
17. Aishwarya Rai is known as beauty with brain in fashion world. Same way, Rahul Dravid will be known as perfect combination of class with consistency in cricket history.