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HindustanTimes Sat,02 Aug 2014

Sport

Dravid, a true professional
Amrit Mathur, PTI
London, September 14, 2002
First Published: 01:29 IST(4/9/2002)
Last Updated: 00:39 IST(14/9/2002)

Regardless of what happens at the Oval, the Man of The Tour is Rahul Dravid, Indian cricket's only genuine allrounder since Paaji. He has batted from No.1 to 6, kept wickets and dismissed Saeed Anwar once with some kind of an off break. Before England he was a battler, a sound technician who defended stoutly and made runs abroad when others collapsed. Now he is a pro who takes control and wins matches.

Descriptions such as 'the wall' or 'rock' could be flattering to some but not Dravid. On the contrary, the Rahul (also Shahrukh Khan's popular screen name) cringes with embarrassment when excited copywriters create such adjectives.

Actually, junk these fancy titles. Dravid is a professional in the true sense of the word --- the best namoona of a committed khiladi. Some stars (manufactured by the media, dependent on hype and hangama) shamelessly thrust themselves into every frame of every camera lens. But Indian cricket's No.3 is shy, introverted, low key and private. Unlike contemporaries who are in-your-face, Dravid leads a sprint without participating in it!

He derives strength from performance. Who can argue with stats that say only five Indians have made more Test runs and only one has a better average. But this vast experience sits lightly on him and teammates are still on first name basis. Dravid has not yet acquired Rahul bhai status in the dressing room!

Players admire him as an up-front senior who sets a fine example. Typical of this do-it-yourself philosophy is his attitude towards fitness. Dravid spends hours training because he understands the demands of cricket, not because Adrian LeRoux is closely monitoring his gym sessions. "This is something one must do," he says with conviction. "When faced with a chocolate cake at the dinner table you have to decide what is good for you."

Dravid is self driven, nobody tells him what to do; others dread pressure but Dravid thinks positively and talks about surmounting fresh challenges. Such toughness is part of Dravid's cricket and his personality.

Not one to be blown away by short-pitched bowling, he values his wicket and refuses to make a gift to the bowlers. His personality reflects similar traits, he is correct and measured -- no false strokes, no crude heaves, no flirting outside off stump. Quite simply Dravid isn't the type to commit even a traffic offence!

Strangely, for all these modern traits, Dravid is traditional in many ways. In an era when players don't read newspapers (or contracts, or any kind of literature) he pours carefully over editorials on wildlife/environment/pollution and carries books in his bag.

Team-mates struggle to place Farokh Engineer (India ke liye khela kya?), but Dravid has a sense of history and a curiosity, which explain visits to Westminster, Wimbledon and Westend musicals.

Interestingly, Dravid is focussed yet composed, connected and contemporary but sensitive to the past. He upholds old-fashioned values but sports the trendiest Oakleys, fights hard but won't utter gaalis, is gentle but won't take rubbish.

Sport is about performance, personality, pride and passion, all of which are present in liberal doses in Rahul Dravid.


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