Even when he was not at his best, that is by his lofty standards, whenever there was talk about playing in England, New Zealand, Australia or South Africa, it was said: "We have Rahul Dravid." That is the confidence and high esteem with which Dravid is held by everyone, for his sheer ability to master the toughest of conditions.
In this series, the champion batsman has shown just what a class act he is, amidst the pall of gloom that has engulfed the Indian team.
Asked to fill in the opener's position in the fourth Test, he carried his bat and the 38-year-old then was ready again in 10 minutes to face England's new ball bowlers in the second innings. He again proved on Sunday that with application and determination an Indian batsman can make runs against this England attack.ONE-MAN ARMY
The Indian legend stood tall among the ruins, single-handedly fighting the might of the England attack to complete his third hundred of the series.
The England bowlers tried everything, a bit of talking, threatening with aggressive body language, building pressure. But everything bounced off The Wall. Dravid stood at his crease like a monk, guarding his wicket like a seasoned warrior that he is.
He has played many epics but will rate the unbeaten 146 among his finest. It was a heroic act of defiance and the Bangalore batsman will be proud of the effort with which he went past Sunil Gavaskar's tally of 34 hundreds. His only regret will be that his knock was not enough to save his team from the ignominy of following on. But that will have to be blamed on the capitulation of the batsmen around him.
With tailenders Amit Mishra and RP Singh chipping in with gutsy knocks, India reached 300 for the first time in the series. Following on, India were 129 for three with Sachin Tendulkar and nightwatchman Amit Mishra at the crease.
It was a masterful batting display by Dravid after he resumed on 57. The feature of his batting in this series has been the flow with which he has batted throughout the innings.
He made the Sunday crowd's morning with some exquisite boundaries, three of which in one Swann over, the 53rd of the innings. Starting with a powerful blow over midwicket, he delectably cut the bowler past backward point and then topped it with a sparkling on-drive.
The only uncertain moment in his first innings was the cheeky run he took on 99 and struggled to make the non-striker's end. He was like a one-man army; when Dravid scored the two runs to reach 101, India's total was 172. He always looked to dominate, racing to his hundred in 168 balls.
Quite drained, Dravid was up for a fight in the second innings until a controversial decision ended his stubborn stay at 13. Umpire Rod Tucker negated the appeal by Swann for bat-pad. The TV replays were inconclusive as Hot Spot didn't show any wood on the ball, but surprisingly the umpire changed his decision. To be fair, Dravid's body language was not good when the appeal was made. But it reignited the debate on the reliability of technology.
‘Dravid versus England’ read a placard as the Oval rose to a man to salute him at the end of his classic. It was so fitting.