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Will IPL loyalties fall for the Wall?

The moment you enter the Chinnaswamy stadium, in fact, even from the outside, the first thing your eyes chance upon is a 10,000 brick wall with a stainless steel statue of Rahul Dravid playing his trademark cover drive. Rohit Bhaskar reports

cricket Updated: Apr 19, 2011 00:46 IST
Rohit Bhaskar

The moment you enter the Chinnaswamy stadium, in fact, even from the outside, the first thing your eyes chance upon is a 10,000 brick wall with a stainless steel statue of Rahul Dravid playing his trademark cover drive. Three words are inscribed on the top-left corner of the wall - commitment, consistency, class. Amid such a backdrop how will the Bangalore fans react to Dravid being in the visitor's dressing room at the Chinnaswamy for the first time in his career?

Don't be surprised if just for a day IPL loyalties give way to loyalties of a more heartfelt kind when the Royal Challengers Bangalore take on Dravid's new club, the Rajasthan Royals, here on Tuesday.

"Dravid has been great ambassador for the game here, and I'm sure the fans will remember that," said AB de Villiers, one of RCB's recruits in an off-season that saw a complete overhaul of the team, including the decision of not retaining the team's Icon player Dravid.

Asked if the return of Dravid would steal some of RCB's thunder as they bank on home support to put an end to a 3-game losing skid, de Villiers said, "Fans here generally tend to support good cricket. If they (Dravid and Royals) play good cricket, I don't think anyone in our team will mind them getting the adulation."

Dravid first played here during a summer coaching camp when he was 12, and was spotted by former cricketer Keki Tarapore in this very stadium.

However, fans expecting Dravid to roll back the years and deliver a vintage performance be warned. Dravid's international record here is none too flattering. In the eight Test matches he has played on his home ground Dravid has recorded just two fifties and averages a paltry 20, his lowest for any international venues, and, well below his career average of close to 53.

Even in the inaugural IPL, when he was leading RCB, he didn't have the best outing with the bat as the Royal Challengers finished second from bottom. If Dravid is able to conjure up some of his old magic, it will be a day to remember for all Bangaloreans - even if their team ends up on the losing side.

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