When the Indian team landed in Glasgow on Tuesday, it was a different sort of homecoming for Rahul Dravid. He had represented Scotland in the English County’s National League for three months in 2003.
As Dravid got ready to lead his national team against Scotland at the Clydesdale Cricket Ground here on Thursday, he was looking forward to facing his ex-teammates.
“I am looking forward to it,” he said on Wednesday. “To come back here and play versus Scotland. I spent three months with them, played some ten matches with them and got to know some of the boys. I am looking forward to the opportunity. It will be a special occasion for me.”
Dravid, newly-married then, had brought along his wife Vijeta for his Scottish stint. He scored 600 runs at 66.66 apiece in his 11 One-day innings for Scotland.
“I enjoyed the friendships with players, officials, something I maintain till today,” he said. “For both me and my wife it was a special three months to get love and warmth of the people of Scotland. I would have loved the game to have been at the Grains, though.”
Even Scotland skipper Ryan Watson was looking forward to the opportunity of playing against Dravid. “We know how good he is,” Watson said. “He did a really good job for us, and we know what to expect.”
Though Dravid hasn’t seen Scotland play since then, he has kept track of their performance.
“I’ve followed a little bit of their cricket over the internet,” he said. “They have their challenges and they haven’t changed over the last four years. Some of the issues relevant then are still relevant today. But Scotland play a lot of matches now. I think there’s an opportunity for a lot of teams to come to Scotland and play. It will also give their players international exposure. I think the more tours they can make — it comes down to whether they can make cricket semi-professional or not.”
The match will be an opportunity for the Indians to study the Scottish team as both the teams face each other in the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa next month.
“It’s definitely a good chance for some of the other boys (to have a close look at them),” Dravid said. “I won’t be involved in the Twenty20. It’s a good occasion, first time India plays Scotland in an ODI and hopefully the sun comes out, we have a good wicket and it’s going to be a good occasion.”
I-Day, Borde style
As the nation was celebrating its 60th Independence Day anniversary on Wednesday, India’s cricketers were preparing for their match against Scotland on Thursday.
However, they did celebrate I-Day in their own way. Cricket manager Chandu Borde, who mowed the grass on the outfield for some time in the morning, was seen wishing every Indian – including some fans and journalists – a “Happy Independence Day.”
Borde, 73, was in fact the only Indian at the ground to have witnessed the occasion on 15 August 1947.
“I was only 13 then, but I remember we were running around all over with the Indian flag in our hands,” he said, getting nostalgic. “It didn’t matter though that I didn’t understand what independence was. I was always independent.”
Skipper Rahul Dravid, on the other hand was a “proud” man celebrating the occasion. “It’s a great occasion for India,” he said. “It’s a good time personally and a time to look back and reflect the reasons as to why we have our independence, the people who gave us the freedom that we have. Both in the past and those who preserve it today.
“India is a country that’s growing and is an exciting place to be. A lot is happening and we have very good times ahead.”