Rahul Dravid, the Test great, never had an easy life in the shorter formats of the game. What did he do? He dug in his heels, trained and sweated even more. And, so, five years after starting out as a Test specialist who suddenly found himself leading a Twenty20 team, Dravid has been able to remain relevant even at this age.
Not without paying a price, though. Overlooked by his own home franchise after an uninspiring stint, Dravid had to go an extra mile at the twilight of his career. But it has won him greater respect.
Teammates still swear by his work ethic. Rigours of Twenty20 cricket have prompted him to be fitter but nothing, according to Dravid, has helped him more than the ability to adapt to different situations. "I think, at the end of the season, if the team you're part of does very well, you can take a lot of credit from that. Another key role is to be adaptable, to be able to do various roles, to do things that might not be in your comfort zone or you might not be used to," said Dravid at a promotional event on Thursday.
Playing the part
He has walked that talk many times in his career. Considered one of India's finest slip fielders of all time, Dravid had no problem donning the wicketkeeper's gloves during the 2003 World Cup. Ask him to field at midwicket and he still pulls off stunning catches.
He runs swifter between wickets nowadays, not to mention some of the audacious runs he tries once in a while. "When you are a part of the team or an organisation, it's very important to ensure that you play your part well. When you play in the team, it's not only about yourself, it's also what success you can give to your team and how well the team does," said Dravid. Even as captain, Dravid is a big departure from the flamboyant Shane Warne. But his impact is not short on any count.
He had vociferously backed Ajainkya Rahane to be selected for the India team after last year's Indian domestic Twenty20 league. Rahane revealed on Thursday that it was because of Dravid's insistence that Sanju Samson, who spent a fruitless few years with KKR, was sent to bat at No 3 against RCB in the last match. Samson slammed a 41-ball 63. Dravid may be the biggest gentleman in cricket but as captain he isn't willing to concede even an inch.
A trip to the Chinnaswamy Sadium, where a wall has been erected in his honour, still warms his heart but Dravid is still pricked by their loss there. "That's why it was special beating RCB in Jaipur," said Dravid. "And I'm not really concerned about the other team as long as we qualify for the play-offs."