It comes at some surprise that Rahul ‘The Wall’ Dravid stands at 177 not out after the first day of the test between India and Sri Lanka being played in Ahmedabad. Personally, I thought Dravid was a spent force, though that said, I had based that on seeing his rather listless performances in the last IPL season. T20 is certainly not a game that is suited to Dravid. He is, in many ways, a player from the past, with his elegant stroke play and ‘Wall-like’ defense. Unlike the smashers and bashers of the current generation, Dravid builds an innings slowly, but surely. It is certainly great to see that he has still got it at the test level.
Batting against an admittedly weak Sri Lankan bowling line-up, Dravid has again shown that he is one of the top Indian test players of all time. Dravid has played an extraordinary 134 tests, and is still averaging 52. He has some 26 test hundreds and over 180 test catches. His numbers in ODI format aren’t half bad either, averaging a tad under 40 across 339 games, with 12 centuries. However, the pressure has been on Rahul. With the game’s huge changes, namely the inception of T20, the pressure for players to perform at fever pitch is forcing players such as Dravid, Laxman, and South Africa’s Jacques Kallis to conform or face the chop.
In fact the scorecard from India’s efforts yesterday tell an interesting story. Dravid scored his majestic 177 not out from over 250 balls at a strike rate of over 70. This is even more extraordinary seeing as that M.S. Dhoni, perhaps the poster boy of the new style of cricket, scored his 110 at a strike rate of 69. Test cricket it seems is shifting thanks to its younger quicker offspring, ODI’s and T20’s.
Let us hope that Dravid can maintain his good form for at least a couple more years. One of the best innings I have ever seen was his 180 supporting V.V.S. Laxman’s famous 281 against Australia in 2001. Laxman’s innings was all-class, but there is certainly no doubt that he wouldn’t have done it without Dravid. ‘The Wall’ did what he does best…he wore them down. In fact he completely broke the back of the bowlers, and allowed Laxman to flourish with the knowledge that his partner wasn’t going anywhere. Laxman knew that he could count on Dravid 100%, and I’m sure many batting partners in the past have felt the same. Let’s hope that at least a few more will be able to rely on ‘The Wall’ for a few more years yet.
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