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Dravid: Jewel in Indian batting crown

Much like his batting, Rahul Dravid is, without fuss and much ado, set to play his 100th Test on Saturday.

india Updated: Mar 16, 2006 16:54 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Much like his batting, Rahul Dravid is, without fuss and much ado, set to play his 100th Test on Saturday having emerged as the jewel in the crown of Indian batting, well on his way to a place in the game's hall of fame.

The nickname 'wall', perhaps coined by a frustrated bowler, is somewhat unfair to his immense batting skills which include silken cover and straight drives, daring hook shots and delicate cuts. Walls do not think but Dravid is a thinking cricketer if ever there was one.

Only Don Bradman and seven other batsmen in the 120-year old history of the game have better Test averages than the Indian skipper. His 58.16 is the best among all the current batsmen, including Sachin Tendulkar (55.79) and Australian captain Ricky Ponting (57.71), and he is not done yet.

Tendulkar is an icon and Virender Sehwag the daredevil. While they are basking in public adulation, Dravid, almost quietly, has become the backbone of India's batting.

Another Indian legend Sunil Gavaskar aptly described him as the "iron man of Indian cricket whose strength of character shines through in every move he makes on the field."

Characteristically, Dravid says that there is no point in making a big fuss about joining Tendulkar, Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Dilip Vengsarkar and Anil Kumble in playing 100 Tests for India. Nevertheless, he talks of a special feeling and hopes he will be on the winning side when he reaches the landmark in the third Test against England on Saturday.

India's coach Greg Chappell, himself one of the 17 batsmen in the game's history who have played 80 or more Tests with an average of over 50, admires not only Dravid's batting achievements but his leadership too.

"Rahul is getting better as a skipper. He does the hard work and gets the respect of the boys for it. I really believe that at the end of his time as captain, he is going to be considered by many people to have been one of the best captains India has had," Chappell said on Thursday.

Former Indian skipper Ravi Shastri describes Dravid as a 'quintessential role model'. He is probably a rare player to have played 100 Tests inside 10 years.

"The best thing to have happened to him is that he is now the captain of the side. It has toughened him up and shown us another side of his which was hidden. That is because being captain means taking tough decisions. I wish him all very well," Shastri said.

India's Chief Selector Kiran More says that Dravid carries the team well. "He performs and it is comforting. He listens to us and we listen to him. As a captain, he has a long future ahead of him."

Praise for Dravid comes even from his adversaries on the field. Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul Haq rates him as one of the world's 5 top batsmen and another Pakistani great Javed Miandad, ever miserly with his praise, nonetheless said that it was remarkable that Dravid had stayed so long.

"From now on it is upto Dravid how he plans the rest of his career. I do not know what goals he is setting for himself in his 100th Test. I for one look to score hundreds in my 50th and 100th matches and so on," says the former Pakistani captain.

First Published: Mar 16, 2006 16:42 IST