The Wall ‘Rahul Dravid’ is now in ICC’s Hall of Fame
Rahul Dravid becomes the 5th Indian cricketer to be Inducted in ICC’s Hall of Fame.
If one ever needed someone to personify understated elegance, Rahul Dravid would be the perfect fit. He has been a giant of Indian cricket one of the three best batsmen produced by India alongside Tendulkar and Gavaskar but has somehow never got the adulation he so richly deserves. His greatest contribution to India has been his performance in away-series, where he has been the principal architect of several Indian wins.
He made his ODI and Test debuts in 1996, but while he struggled in ODIs initially, he scored a flawless 95 on Test debut an innings that was eclipsed by a century from fellow debutant Sourav Ganguly.
His initial performances in both forms of the game set the tone for his first few years in international cricket. While he grew in stature and confidence on the Test arena, he struggled in the limited-overs format, before being dropped from the team.
However, the tour to New Zealand in 1998-99, saw a changed Dravid come back into the Indian team and establish himself in both formats. He upped his strike rate, learned to rotate the strike and pierce the gaps better, and all the while maintained his impregnable defence that gave rise to his famous nickname ‘The Wall’.
To illustrate with numbers how Dravid changed his one-day game, from his debut in 1996 till the end of 1998 he played in 65 matches, scoring 1709 runs at a middling average of 31.64 and a below-par strike rate of 63.48.
Since the start of 1999 to the present, he has played in 274 matches scoring 9056 runs with an average of 41.35 and a strike-rate of 72.84. In other words, Dravid raised his average and strike-rate by about ten points each. In thus re-inventing his game, he ensured that India had the services of one of its most accomplished batsmen for both forms of the game.
His Test match form was never under scrutiny and in the years 2002-06, he established himself as the wicket that was most prized by opponents, even ahead of Tendulkar. In that five-year period, Dravid amassed runs at an average of 63.69, scoring buckets of runs in all conditions and against all opposition. He was the single largest factor in India over-turning its abysmal away record, with the result that the team won more matches abroad in the 2000s decade than it had in its entire Test match playing history from 1934 to the end of 1999.
Towards the end of 2007, Dravid went into a form slump, that saw him lose his place in the ODI side, while he hung on to his Test spot by a thin margin. However, he re-emerged from the slump and even made a brief comeback into the ODI side after many had thought his limited-overs career was all but over.
Dravid was the ‘Icon’ player for Bangalore in the IPL, where he was the leading run-scorer for his team in the first season and performed well in the second season too.
He is among only 5 men with Tendulkar, Ponting, Lara and Kallis being the others to have scored more than 10,000 runs in both ODIs and Test matches.
Dravid had a tremendous tour of England in 2011 scoring three tons, including one at Lord’s and aggregated 461 runs in the four tests. A poor Australia tour where he was bowled 6 times in the 8 innings forced him to quit the game. He announced his retirement from all forms of international cricket on 9th March bringing the curtains down on a legendary career.