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Dravid fights off Goliaths in his head

While Laxman's superb performance will naturally draw the hosannas, Rahul Dravid's gritty knock at the other end cannot be forgotten, reports Kadambari Murali.

cricket Updated: Jan 04, 2008 03:17 IST

Even while VVS Laxman was running amok, godlike, at one end, at the other, a man far more accomplished as a Test batsman in every way, was struggling to come to terms with cricketing mortality.

While Laxman's superb performance will naturally draw the hosannas, Rahul Dravid's gritty knock at the other end cannot be forgotten.

They were a sight to watch, one man in supreme command and the other, perennially tortured, barely hanging in there. Dravid nicked, edged, rode his luck but hung on, while India, riding on two of their favourite sons for this kind of situation, slowly climbed out of the
barrel. And it was a partnership, the 175 they put on for the second wicket, not a solo performance.

"I was really pleased for Rahul when he reached his 50," said Laxman later. "He was not timing the ball well initially, but it was a fighting knock. He showed great character today. They bowled well to him, it was a gritty knock by him. Towards the end, he was getting his timing back. We both play our own games, we don't interfere with each other's approach. As a team, we needed the partnership. Rahul's knock was very important in that regard."

Still, Dravid, on this day, made for some uncomfortable viewing. Someone famed for knowing his off-stump, on this tour so far, he's been guilty of fishing ever so often. He would probably consider himself lucky that catches were either grassed, proven bumped or caught of a no ball, allowing him to ride his luck and get to his half-century.

According to the experts, Dravid's problem centres around his looking to play on the front foot, which is fine, but in the process, he also seems to go way too forward in his stride. By doing so, they believe he is getting too close to the ball and allowing himself no room to free his arms. Then again, by going that far forward, he also flirts with the danger of going too far across and playing balls way outside off-stump.

Yet, he refused to let go, not throwing it away even when the crowd baited him, booing every dot ball he played and cheering mockingly every time he took a single.

Australia were as grateful for his wicket as they were for Laxman's. "They were crucial wickets right at the end there, Laxman and Dravid, they were batting beautifully," said Brett Lee later. "For us to go in with one wicket down at the end would have been a different story, but to get those last two were brilliant. We're in a pretty good spot now."