DateLine: 5th June 2008
Without any doubts, he is the best No. 3 batsman to play for India and is also considered to be amongst the best in the world for the same reason. Known as ‘The Wall’, he has been India’s best and most dependable batsman in recent years, and his importance to the team cannot be bellied.
A technically gifted player, Rahul has all the shots in his book, but rarely exhibits them on the field. This is more due to his technical approach to the game, whereas the gifted improviser is sometimes left out only in the dire moments of ODIs. He is a team man first and then a batsman, as he has also donned the wicket-keeping gloves for his team in ODIs, providing crucial balance to the Indian eleven.
He made all the right headlines in his debut test match at Lord’s in 1999, where he just missed his century to be out on one run, his limelight being stolen by debutant century maker Ganguly. And this has been his story throughout his career. He has given some stellar performances, though all of them have come under the shade of some or the other innings or efforts of another player. The biggest example of this is the superb test match against Steve Waugh’s all conquering Aussies in Kolkata 2001, with a supporting act, when he made 180 to supplement VVS Laxman's classic effort of 281.
However, that match is seen to be a turning point in his life, as he fought critics and poor form to help India win the test match. From then on, Dravid became India's most valuable player, saving them Tests at Port Elizabeth, Georgetown and Trent Bridge, winning them Tests at Headlingley, Adelaide, Kandy and Rawalpindi. At one point during this run, he carved up four centuries in successive innings, and hit four double-centuries in the space of 15 Tests, including in historic away-wins at Adelaide and Rawalpindi. This amazing run has confirmed his place on the pedestals on which other greats like Tendulkar and Gavaskar are placed. In October 2005, he was appointed captain of the ODI side and began with a thumping 6-1 hammering of Sri Lanka in a home series, and was soon given responsibility of the Test side as well, taking over from Sourav Ganguly. Though he started well, the dark hour of his reign came when India lost to Bangladesh in the 2007 world cup and were knocked out in the first round. However, he did have a few highlights in his captaincy stint, with test victories in South Africa and England, winning the series 1-0 during the tour of UK in 2007. He then stepped down as captain due to differences in opinion over selection issues, and has been struggling to find his feet back in the team ever since.
He played as an ICON player in the IPL, for his home team Franchise, the Bangalore Royal Challengers.
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