Friday will be Rahul Dravid’s final game as an international limited-overs cricketer, and what an amazing journey it has been! I still remember Rahul breaking into the one-day team, in Singapore in 1996 just after the World Cup. To see him today, more than 15 years down the road, with upwards of 10,800 runs and nearly 350 one-day internationals, delights me no end because he has shown that there is no substitute for class, hard work and impeccable work ethics.
Rahul wasn’t a part of the one-day set-up for the last two years.
I believe it is fitting that he has got the opportunity to play this series, and is leaving on his own terms. In my view, he has probably been the most important player from an Indian perspective.
For a long time, not many people believed Dravid could be a successful one-day cricketer. But he has gone on and on, unfazed by criticism and having supreme confidence in his abilities.
He is not someone who will go out and tonk sixes at will but he gets the job done. Rahul's approach has changed in the way he uses the pace of the bowler, looks to take the early singles and keep the board ticking over.
Donned every role
He has probably donned every role he has been asked to, other than that of a specialist bowler, though it is worth remembering that he also has four ODI wickets!
The best phase of his ODI career was in the four or so years when he was the wicket-keeper, and batted at number five. He established himself as a great finisher, and it was while batting alongside him that the likes of Yuvraj and Kaif truly matured in the lead-up to the 2003 World Cup.
The disappointment of the 2007 World Cup will stay with Rahul but it must not cloud our vision and make us forget that he has been an exceptional team player and batsman.
I consider it a privilege to have played alongside him through most of my career. His contribution as a team player and mentor can't be quantified, and that will certainly be missed going forward.
He has had a great Test series in England, and I am hoping he will cap that with a wonderful hundred in his farewell 50-over game.
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