Rahul Dravid was India’s dependable rock! His solidity was invaluable at No.3 in Tests and in the middle order in one-day cricket. While the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag won fans with their aggression, Dravid was often seen as the workman in the side. However, on more than an occasion, he showed that he had the fire to match the others in aggression. The Ring Side View picks five most memorable knocks from an attacking Dravid:
The 22-ball 50 – India vs New Zealand, Hyderabad, TVS Cup Tri-Series 2003
He may not have been a dasher but Dravid has the joint second-fastest fifty for India in One-Day Internationals (ODIs). During the TVS Cup encounter against New Zealand at Hyderabad in 2003, Dravid walked in to bat in the 44th over — this after Sehwag and Tendulkar’s centuries had set a firm platform for India. Dravid then feasted on the bowling — full tosses were smashed with disdain through the leg-side and the classic cover-drive turned into a loft. He collected five fours and three sixes, most of them hit with typical grace. His aggressive burst helped India get past 350 and he got his fifty off the last ball of the innings.
The T20 debut and farewell — England vs India, Manchester, Only T20 International, 2011
Dravid’s great performance during India’s turbulent Test series in England in 2011 got him a recall in one-day cricket. Back in 2006, he had missed out on India’s inaugural T20 International and chose to opt out of the format later. However, he announced that the one-day games of that summer were going to be his last in the blue jersey. At the age of 38, Dravid made his debut in T20Is and walked out to bat with the debutant Ajinkya Rahane in the fifth over. He survived a stumping chance early and wasn’t scoring freely. Rahane stole the limelight playing some good strokes, but then Dravid was inspired to use the long handle. In the 11th over, bowled by Samit Patel, he was ready to clear one leg and launch. The fourth ball went over cow corner, he charged to the fifth and hit it over long on and then ended the over with a slog sweep. The three consecutive sixes thrilled the spectators, but he was soon dismissed. With 31 off 21 balls, he finished with a T20I career strike-rate of 147.61.
Taking over the mantle with a blitz – India vs Sri Lanka, Nagpur, 1st One-Day International, 2005
The year 2005 saw a change in guard as Dravid took over from Sourav Ganguly as India’s captain. Ahead of the ODI series against Sri Lanka, Ganguly was axed from the side following the public spat with Greg Chappell and Dravid was installed in his place. In the first ODI at Nagpur, Tendulkar returned after a long injury lay-off and smashed an entertaining 93. Irfan Pathan was promoted to No. 3 and he smashed a 70-ball 83. Dravid walked in at the fall of Tendulkar’s wicket in the 32nd over and stamped his authority. There were shades of that 22-ball fifty as he played aggressive shots with a touch of class. There was also some deft touch on display! He finished with a 63-ball 85 not out and took India to 350. He brought up his fifty in 47 balls, but thereafter got the next 35 in 16 deliveries. Sri Lanka were effectively demoralised after that performance.
Dominating Bristol – England vs India, Bristol, 2nd One-Day International, 2007
Déjà vu Nagpur in Bristol! Tendulkar was out in the 90s yet again, this time on 99. Dravid walked in with India on 180 for two in the 32nd over. Tendulkar’s knock was overshadowed by Dravid’s brilliance as he picked his spots and used the short boundaries at Bristol. There were some good classy shots coupled with a few uncharacteristic slogs. Yet, there was the Dravidian grace as he held his shape. He got to fifty in 43 balls and then charged at the bowlers. Similar to the knock in Nagpur, his last 20 deliveries yielded him 42 runs. The full-tosses were smashed and he also made room to a few deliveries. The 63-ball 92 not out helped India get to 329, which was just enough to help them win on that good batting surface.
Clean hitting in the Indian Premier League – Rajasthan Royals vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, Jaipur, 2008
Dravid was one of the icon players in the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008 and was leading the Royal Challengers Bangalore. The team struggled that year and Dravid’s captaincy and credentials in this format had come under scrutiny. However, he went on to show that class had its place in the shortest version of the game. In the match against Rajasthan Royals at Jaipur, Bangalore had to chase 198. The top order collapsed under pressure and Dravid walked in at 31 for four in the eighth over and put up an exhibition. There was no way Bangalore was going to win but Dravid fought a lone battle, smashing six fours and six sixes enroute to an unbeaten 75 off 36 balls. That was some clean hitting from a classical player!