61 more runs would've got Rahul 31 tons!
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61 more runs would've got Rahul 31 tons!

Had Dravid, who will play his 100th Test in Mumbai, scored merely 61 more runs in different innings, he would have been the fourth highest centuries scorer.

india Updated: Mar 16, 2006 17:35 IST

Had Rahul Dravid, who will play his 100th Test startingin Mumbai onSaturday, scored merely 61 more runs in different innings, he would have been the fourth highest centuries scorer.

He would have then had 31 tons - and not his current 22. The 33-year-old batsman has got out eight times in the 90s and once remained unbeaten on 91 (when captain Sourav Ganguly declared the innings in search of a win in the fourth drawn Test at Sydney in January 2004).

The 61 runs that Dravid, who will lead India against England in the third and final Test, lacks are distributed over the nine innings in which he either got out or remained unbeaten in the 90s - 95, 92, 92, 93, 91, 92, 91 not out, 98 and 95, though obviously, not on a trot.

But those are the teasing figures of the great game of cricket that never tell the real tale.

It is true that a mere few runs are enough not just to prevent Dravid from joining the West Indies' Brian Lara in the fourth position of highest century makers but also to take him way down to the 18th position.

But knowing Dravid's nature, his fans can safely assume that he would still be happy being the ninth highest run accumulator in the Test history as he occupies that slot with 8,492 runs in 167 innings at 58.16, boosted by 22 centuries and 41 half-tons.

Add those 136 catches, mostly taken at slips, and you have the complete picture of an all-round cricketer - and more.

He would rather take pride in being ninth (58.16) in the list of all-time highest average holders, a club that is headed by the legendary Donald Bradman (99.94) and comprises the West Indies' George Headley and Everton Weekes, Englishmen Herbert Sutcliffe, Edward Paynter, Ken Barrington and Wally Hammond and South African Graeme Pollock.

Make no mistake, this is no mean achievement as the elite club is 129 years old and has been based on performances in 1,788 Test matches played since March 15, 1877.

Whether nervous or not in the 90s or 80s, at the end of the day the game's connoisseurs would look at Dravid's contributions in a different perspective - that of Team India, the conditions, the pitches, the opposition, his form and the situation of the matches.

On all those parameters, the right-handed batsman excels like no one else, including legendary compatriots Vijay Merchant, Vijay Hazare, Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar.

But since the issue is whether 'Dravid the Wall' melts in the 90s, or just before he reaches the threshold of a three-figure innings, a look at the figures of his almost 10-year successful international career reveals that he has been consumed eight times in the 80s.

Apart from his scores of 90s, Dravid has registered scores of 84, 81, 85, 86, 81, 87, 86 and 80 in 167 visits to the crease.

These figures may be like an eyesore for Dravid's statistics sheet, but he is the sort of player who would be happy to see his 80 or 90 take India to victory rather than a century that is only good enough to draw a match.

And on this count, Dravid can always sit back and be contented, as he has been a beacon of hope for the Indian team since June 20, 1996, when the Bangalorean wore India colours for his Test debut at Lord's, London.

First Published: Mar 16, 2006 11:44 IST