When we talk about Indian cricket captains in the 21st century, we talk about the 'Ganguly-era', the 'Dhoni-era' and now the 'Kohli-era'. But we always end up ignoring the 'Dravid-era', which panned from 2005 to 2007 and was marred by the Sourav Ganguly-Greg Chappel controversy. Rahul Dravid as a leader is known more for India's first round exit in the 2007 Cricket World Cup and often we forget the things that Indian cricket achieved under him.
Dravid took over the captaincy from Ganguly in late 2005, after the latter had been dropped from the team, following the controversy with the then-Indian coach, Chappel. Dravid captained India in a total of 25 Tests and 79 ODIs, winning eight and 42, respectively. From a plethora of successful ODI chases to winning a Test series overseas, Indian cricket witnessed some path-breaking highs in the Dravidian era.
We always celebrate Dravid's accomplishments as a batsman but let us also celebrate his success as a captain.Here's a rewind to some of the great wins Indian Cricket achieved under him.
#4 A world record of 17 successful ODI run-chases
Ever since India won the ODI series against the arch-rivals in their historic tour of Pakistan in 2003/04, they had endured a prolonged phase of mediocrity that saw them get knocked out in the first round of Champions Trophy in 2004 and lose to Pakistan at home (2-4 in 2005). Dravid's immediate task after he took over, was to address the downward spiral of the former world champions, starting from a seven-match series against Sri Lanka at home.
The change of guard in captaincy worked wonders for India, as they went on winning bilateral series against Sri Lanka, England and Pakistan. In their sojourn, India created a plethora of records, none bigger than the seventeen consecutive successful run chases, fifteen of which came under Dravid, surpassing the record of fourteen, previously held by the West Indies. Ironically, the streak was broken by the Caribbean team itself on 20th May 2006, when Dwayne Bravo flabbergasted Yuvraj Singh with a slower ball and scripted a famous win for the hosts, in the second ODI of the series played at Kingston, Jamaica. The feat achieved under Dravid remains on top of the pedestal.
#3 First series win in the West Indies after 1971 (1-0 in 2006)
The West Indies, albeit a pale shadow of their former self, were always a force to be reckoned with at home, something which Ganguly's team found in their series loss in 2002. The 2006 tour to the Caribbean hadn't started well either for the tourists as they squandered their 1-0 lead to face the ignominy of a 1-4 drubbing. India hadn't won a series in the Windies after Ajit Wadekar's successful tour of 1971, and the 2006 tour offered them the best chance to do so.
India came within one wicket of winning the first test at Antigua, only to be deprived by a defiant West Indian tail. The second Test at the Gros Islet too was a gripping affair that went down to the last ball. West Indies came hard at the Indians in the third test at St Kitt's with Darren Ganga and Ramnaresh Sarwan notching up big hundreds that propelled the hosts to 581 in the first innings, but Brian Lara's decision of not enforcing the follow-on after they had bowled India out for 362, allowed the Indian batsmen to bat out time on the final day to salvage a draw. That meant the series was reduced to a one-match shootout, scheduled to be played at Kingston, Jamaica.
On a pitch that was expected to offer prodigious seam and bounce, Dravid won the toss and decided to bat first. He found himself marking his batting guard in the opening hour with the score reading 2/2. It soon became 34/3 as Jerome Taylor and Corey Collymore made further inroads. Dravid looked a class apart from his contemporaries, as he compiled an awe-inspiring 81 off 215 deliveries, to control India's fledgling innings. Dravid's innings helped India post 200, which proved to be extremely decisive as the tourists bowled the West Indies out for 103, securing a significant lead of 97 runs in the process. Dravid wasn't done yet as he again found himself at the crease at 6/2 in the second innings, with Taylor nipping out the Indian openers. With Laxman, Yuvraj and MS Dhoni following suit, Dravid (68 off 166 balls) completed an encore of his first innings' efforts and helped his team set up what would eventually turn out to be a series-winning target.
Sreesanth and Anil Kumble completed the proceedings for India in the fourth Innings as the latter's haul of 6/78 bowled the West Indies out for 219. The win, built on the perseverance and grit of Dravid, broke the 25 years drought of a series win in the Caribbean.
#2 First Ever Test win in South Africa, Johannesburg 2006.
It took 15 years and 3 winless tours for India to finally register their first win on the South African soil. It was the Dravid-led the team that broke the drought as India defeated South Africa by 123 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the series. The magnitude of the win was magnanimous not only because it was their debut win but also because it came on a pitch that was tailor-made for the host's bowlers, where the visitors were expected to get rolled over. To make matters worse, India had been blanked 0-4 in the ODI series that preceded the Test matches.
The match also marked the comeback of former Indian Captain Ganguly, who played a crucial innings of 51, pushing India's total to 249. Then, Sreesanth (5/40) bowled one of the better spells ever bowled by an Indian bowler overseas to knock over South Africa for 84. India with the help of VVS Laxman (73) could only manage 236 in the second innings, leaving South Africa 401 runs to win. A valiant effort by Ashwell Prince in the second innings was not enough as South Africa capitulated against the duo of Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth, who claimed three wickets each, to hand India one of their most famous wins overseas.
#1 Series Win in England after 21 years (1-0 in 2007)
A look at India's results in the past two England tours (0-4 in 2011) and (1-3 in 2014), and ONE realize the magnanimity of what India achieved under Dravid in 2007. It was Kapil Dev's team back in 1986, who had last beaten the English at home and although Ganguly's team came close in 2002 (1-1 in a four-match series), a series win still eluded the tourists.
It all changed when the Indian team, desperate to reverse their fortunes after a heart-wrenching first-round exit in the Cricket World Cup played in the Caribbean, arrived on English shores in the summer of 2007. India, thanks to MS Dhoni's gritty batting and inclement weather conditions, managed to salvage a draw for themselves in the opening Test at Lord's. The second Test at Nottingham proved to be a better one for the Indians as Zaheer Khan and RP Singh, with some incisive seam and swing bowling, shot England out for 198 in the first innings. Dinesh Karthik and Wasim Jaffer led India's charge with a brilliant 147-run opening partnership before the shenanigans of the middle order took over as the tourists amassed 481 runs in reply to England's first innings total.
The third innings saw the English players allegedly scattering jelly beans on the pitch to distract Zaheer, but the tactics backfired as the outraged bowler displayed a pristine display of reverse and conventional swing bowling to rip through England's batting, claiming a match-winning haul of nine wickets across the two innings.
England was bowled out for 355, leaving India with a target of 73 runs, to take a 1-0 lead in the series, which they duly achieved with seven wickets remaining. The third Test played at The Oval too was dominated by India from the outset. Batting first, the tourists amassed a massive 664 in the first innings, which included eight half-centuries, a first in Test cricket. But the highlight of the innings was the sight of a certain Kumble compiling his maiden Test hundred- a sight which was probably one of the most romantic moments in the history of Indian Test Cricket.
India, then shot out England for 345, giving them the opportunity to enforce the follow-on. However, Dravid decided against it, and India found themselves in a hole at 11/3, having lost both their openers and Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar for one.
Ganguly (57) and Dravid (12) then steadied the ship for the tourists as they eventually set England 500 runs to win the match. England then batted out the remaining 110 overs, thanks to a brilliant century from Kevin Pieterson, ending the match in a draw. That meant, Rahul Dravid's India finally managed to topple their English jinx and become the first Indian team to win a series in England after 21 years.