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Running silent, running deep

No batsman in the history of the game has batted at No 3 as many times as Rahul Dravid, writes Anand Vasu.

cricket Updated: Mar 29, 2008 23:25 IST
Anand Vasu

No batsman in the history of the game has batted at No 3 as many times as Rahul Dravid. It is a pivotal position in Test cricket and he has made it completely his own.

He first got the slot against the South Africans in Ahmedabad in 1996. Since then, no-one has been able to prise him out. In Test cricket, no matter how lean the patch or how long it lasted, there wasn't so much a thought of dropping him.

Had it not been for his own decision to step down from the captaincy in one-day cricket, he would, in all probability, still be playing that form of the game. And so it has been with Dravid all his life.

He has called the shots throughout his career, not leaving things to chance or depending on anything outside the game to prop him up. For him, there has been only one way, and that has been to use his bat to accomplish what he wants.

At an advanced stage in his career, Dravid is now enjoying the dividends of what has been a lifetime of hard work.

Together with Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly, Dravid forms the band of brothers.

Given what each has achieved in his own right, there's no insecurity about places in the team. Indian cricket is strewn with stories of cliques in the team and problems one person has with former captains in the team.

But, at special moments like these — when Kumble was felicitated for picking up 600 wickets, when Virender Sehwag scored his second triple-century, and when Dravid realised a childhood dream today — it was a chance for these giants among men to revel in each others' success. And nothing is more valuable to a sportsman than the respect of his peers.

But Dravid's life does not begin and end with cricket. One of the secrets of his longevity is the conscious effort he makes to keep things in perspective.

On the day, it was understandably difficult for him to keep that perspective, but he returned to the basics, choosing to spend a quiet evening with wife Vijeta and son Samit, even as his phone rang off the hook.

"At the moment Samit doesn't know what he's clapping for," Dravid told the

Hindustan Times

. One day, when the little boy grows up, he'll understand exactly what his father achieved in India's favourite game, and he'll have more than just a surname to be proud of.