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Masterly Dravid dissects dying art

cricket Updated: Jun 24, 2011 01:44 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times
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It was West Indies skipper Darren Sammy, still angry with himself for dropping Rahul Dravid on six, who pointed out to what length the batsman went to make an impact for himself and the team in the Sabina Park Test.

An analysis of his invaluable innings, his first overseas Test hundred since scoring 146 against West Indies at St. Lucia 2006, did not contain one pull shot until Dravid was three runs away from his 32nd century. He still missed that pull against fast bowler Ravi Rampaul before going on to finish on 112 and give India a decent total to defend.

The right approach
"Dravid played one pull...he knew what was needed for the team. The way he played after the chance, that's why you call him 'The Wall'," Sammy said.

The 38-year-old Dravid, perhaps the oldest among current players, came through the six-and-a-half hour marathon unscathed, and importantly provided a lesson to his young team mates what it takes to succeed in Test cricket.

Since he led India to their first series win in West Indies in 2006, Dravid has scored eight centuries, at home and in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. But he missed out on the tours of South Africa (twice), England, Australia and New Zealand.

His failure to get a fifty in six Test innings in South Africa six months ago had raised some concerns whether Dravid was beginning to lose his touch. He banished such doubts for the moment but said playing only Tests made it tougher to comebeck after the breaks between series.

"It was probably the pitch and the situation," Dravid said, when told about the pull shot. "They bowled pretty well. I had to be a bit circumspect and make sure I was there till the end." He was the last man out.

"I love the contest. And the situation we found ourselves in sort of focussed my mind. I really felt I was in good space, balanced and in control even though there were long periods when I didn't score. I enjoy such contests. At this stage of my career, that's what you play for."

Big lessons

None of young batsmen, apart from Raina in the first innings, made a big score. The debutants, opener Abhinav Mukund and Virat Kohli, who buckled against Fidel Edwards, and Murali Vijay failed.

"One of the things I try to tell the younger guys is 'you got to weather the storm', against the intensity of a spell that may last 8-10 overs. Sometimes you can get a bit caught up in the buzz around you. You know it is going to be difficult for a period of time.

"You got to back yourself to fight through it instead of throwing it away. It is going to get easy and you must be there to capitalize later on. Raina's effort in the first innings.