January 2, 2012

Not so happy birthday Rahul Dravid!


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Rahul Dravid is turning 39. In fact he will be reaching this ‘milestone’ of sorts a few hours earlier on January 11, 2012 by virtue of being in Australia rather than in India.

He is at the stage of life when the increase in the number of burning candles in birthday is not a welcome sign. He is in the 40th year of his life now, already the oldest international cricketer on show with even Sachin Tendulkar being three months younger to him.

Dravid, very appropriately titled ‘The Wall’ for his grit, determination and character, has done enough to be remembered as one of the legends of the game. His accomplishments are far too many to be summarized in a single write-up.

Cricketers like him are born once in lifetime. A team man to the core, he has had the mental strength to withstand the quickest of bowlers with minimum of fuss. While the ordinary mortals would have struggled to do it, he has succeeded in rising to the occasion more often than not.

The single greatest quality of his has been to contribute substantially when the chips are down. He’s the batsman most likely to turn the tide if the pitch has uneven bounce and the ball is doing all sorts of tricks.

Dravid’s international career spans over 15 years now. More than the quantum of runs and centuries it’s the manner and the circumstances in which he got them has immortalized him.

2011 was yet another golden year for him. Wasn’t it quite extraordinary that he continued compiling runs when the others failed in demanding conditions? He scored prolifically in the West Indies where the balls kept terribly low on most of the surfaces. Then he stood up against the England bowlers in conditions that were different altogether.

The tour of Australia, starting with the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, was surely going to test the high-profile Indian batsmen and Dravid was most likely to be the leading run-getter once more.

That has not happened yet and the Indians are in shambles, having lost the first two Tests and not much hope going into the last two. The scenario is not alien to them. They were in similar situation in Australia four years ago too.

It was Dravid who had led the turnaround in 2008 by topscoring in the Perth Test where India registered a famous victory against the heaviest odds.

Perth is again the venue. The Indians appear down and out. Will Dravid, in his 40th year, come up with another magical performance to prove the so-called experts wrong who are predicting another whitewash?

Dravid may not be in the ideal frame of mind at this stage, having been undone by the young Australian speedsters but he has the knack of bouncing back with vengeance. He holds the key to India’s fortunes today. If he gets a couple of big scores things could change dramatically.He certainly has the skill, patience and will power to deliver once.


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