The importance of being Dravid

From the time India toured West Indies, the country has been waiting for bated breath for this tour. There were a lot of reasons for that. One among them was the fact that it would be the 2000th Test to be played. Another number of importance was that it would be the 100th Test to be played between England and India

 

There was a lot of expectation leading into the Test that it would be the venue that would be witness to Tendulkar’s 100th International century. With Tendulkar stationed in United Kingdom, it was expected that he would put in the yards during practice and come back rejuvenated for the Test series. With so much pressure weighing, it was but natural to expect that it will wear him down at some point

 

After being accorded a standing ovation on his way to the crease, he proceeded to put on a champagne show for the crowd at Lord’s. It was a vintage show by a batsman as he punched drives of the backfoot and was looking to come forward at every given opportunity- a sure sign that the man was walking into his best form

 

Amidst all the hype, there was a man who scored a century at Sabina Park to steer his team to a victory. And here he was happy to bask in the shadow of a man whose luminescence blinds all. After lunch though, he came into his and proceeded to play drives of his own through the off side and the trademark whips to square-leg and midwicket. What struck the eye though were his drives down the ground. None better than the one’s that he played to get to his half-century and in the nineties. One more shot that stood out was the drive that he played through the off side with both his feet in the air

 

The knock was not without drama as he was dropped by Swann off Broad when he was on 42. What started as a Tendulkar day was actually a throwback to Dravid era. He concentrated on the job at hand, when no other batsman in the team was willing to stick it out with him

 

All the talk before the series centred on the fact that none of the holy trinity had a century at Lord’s. Each of them went public with their wish to feature on the honours board. Dravid, in particular would be more desirous as he missed one on his debut Test by five runs

 

Even as Dravid was going about his job in the middle, talk on the social networking sites revolved around Tendulkar. People grew unaccustomed to Dravid playing a lone hand in salvaging hope or snatching victories. Yes there were odd performances like that against Sri Lanka in 2009 but they were getting scarcer

The Jamaica innings then was a very important one for him as it not only removed people’s doubts and helped him keep the competition at bay. What was more important was the fact that it helped him deal with a few doubting voices in his mind

 

The fickle nature of Indian cricketing fan revealed itself, when Dravid reached his century. The talk revolved on how they watched the game to see a legend score century but another legend made sure that they were not disappointed. His century was a landmark one for the holy trinity as it marked a century of centuries for all of them together. One of the more revealing stats is the fact that India has lost only one match when Dravid has scored a century. That in itself shows his value to the team

 

He has the ability to goad a batsman to bring his A game into the middle. A perfect example in point would be the aforementioned century against Sri Lanka. With the score reading 32/4, he literally guided Yuvraj and Dhoni through the crests and troughs

 

When a fielder as distinguished as him dropped a sitter of Trott at slips, your’s truly felt that maybe the focus was waning. It did not take him long to prove me wrong. He has more often than not turned the matches with his bat. His fielding is an equal contributor, if not more. We tend to forget that he holds the record for most catches in Test cricket

 

His celebration at reaching his century was understandable as it was relief at finally getting a century at the home of cricket. His conversation later with Gavaskar and Ganguly revealed a lot about the person that Dravid is

 

He said it was but obvious that a person would have as many runs and centuries, if he had played in more than 150 Tests. This from a man who overtook Ponting to be the batsman next to Tendulkar on the list for most runs

 

He reaffirmed that what mattered to him was contributing to the team’s cause rather than notching up numbers. He felt that he was lucky to get as many opportunities that he had got

 

Explaining that averting the follow-on was on the mind, which in turn helped him to divert the attention from the century in sight. He added that once the follow-on was averted, he felt he was closer to a century and felt he had to get it as it passed his mind that he missed one fifteen years ago by five runs

When Gavaskar jocularly remarked that he was putting a lot of pressure on himself, as he could have come back in 2014 and scored a century, Dravid said there was no way he saw himself coming back in 2014. Gavaskar said if that was the case then it was good that he got a century. Dravid later remarked that he felt happy to join him and Ganguly on the honours board

 

He said as a boy who was green under his ears he did not quite realise the  history associated with scoring a century at Lord’s. As he put on the numbers in his life, he did come around the fact that he did not score a century at Lord’s

 

It was Ganguly, his fellow debutant who put it the best when he said “Champions don’t have an expiry date

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