Flashback: Best innings of Rahul Dravid in ODI cricket
Rahul Dravid – “He is a player who would walk on broken glasses if his team asks him to”, says Navjot Singh Sidhu. Well, that sums it all how selfless this man has contributed to this nation throughout his career. The Wall had provided the strength to India’s middle order and was a very good finisher.
India holds the record of 17 consecutive wins while chasing in which Rahul Dravid was the captain on 15 occasions. This man has been part of the only two 300-run partnership that was ever made in One Day International showing how good an ODI player he was for India. But his performances were always overshadowed by some great performances at the other end.
He had a dream debut at Lords with 95 but Ganguly scored his 100 on debut in the same match. In 1999 World Cup match against Sri Lanka in which Dravid – Ganguly pair scored 300+ runs, Rahul’s score of 145 was overshadowed by Ganguly again with a 183. He was the top scorer in 1999 World Cup with 461 runs but no one ever remembers it as India could not make it to the semi-finals.
In the other 300 run partnership with Sachin, he scored his career best of 153 but it was eclipsed by Sachin’s 186. Rahul Dravid also holds the record of the 2nd fastest ODI 50 by an Indian. He scored a half century off 22 balls against New Zealand, but because of Sachin and Sehwag’s 100, this record went unnoticed. In the famous Eden Garden test, his 180 was clouded by Laxman’s 281 and Harbhajan Singh’s hat-trick and the list grows on. This shows how magnanimous Rahul Dravid was for India. Here, we will take a look at some of the best innings of Rahul Dravid in ODI cricket.
5. 107 runs off 116 balls vs Pakistan, Chennai, 1997 – M.A. Chidambaram stadium at Chepauk saw one of the best ODI match with Pakistan scoring 327 in their quota of 50 overs. Thanks to the brilliant knock of Saeed Anwar who scored 194 runs with 22 boundaries and 5 sixes, the record which was unbeaten for 13 years before Sachin scored the first double hundred in ODI. Chasing a stiff target, India lost both the openers cheaply. Rahul Dravid entered the crease at 9/1. With his sound technique, Dravid caressed some of the finest bowlers all round the park. Though India finished on the losing side, everyone witnessed the emergence of young Indian who raised his hand to the occasion.
4. 50 runs off 22 balls vs New Zealand, Hyderabad, 2003 – Can you imagine Dravid going for the kill from ball number 1? Probably not, but Dravid has done it in the past. India was looking good to finish somewhere around the 320 run mark batting first against New Zealand when Dravid was sent in after the dismissal of Sehwag at 283 for 3. Dravid was on his top gear right from the moment he got it. With 8 shots across the fence with 3 going over the boundary rope, Dravid helped India to post a commanding score of 353 with a 22 ball half century – the second fastest by an Indian batsmen.
3. 145 runs off 129 balls vs SriLanka, Tauton, 1999 – Yet another time, Rahul had to join Sourav Ganguly in the first over after Sadagoppan Ramesh was bowled by Chaminda Vaas. On a track which had something for the seamers and spinners, Dravid used his feat very well. The innings was full of some classy cover drives. Dravid also used the pull shot to good effect. With all the bowlers going over 6 runs per over, the pair looked well settled and marching forward. This was the first time in the history of ODI cricket a pair added 300 plus runs for any wicket. After adding 318 runs for the 2nd wicket, Dravid was out for 145 runs, one of the greatest knocks you would see from this gentleman from Karnataka.
2. 153 runs off 153 balls vs New Zealand, Hyderabad, 1999 – It was the Lal Bahadur Sastri Stadium in Hyderabad; the scenario did not change for Dravid. He joined Sachin this time after Ganguly was back in the pavilion in the 2nd over. The Kiwis struggled to control, two of the best batsmen the world has ever seen. Sachin and Dravid took on Cairns, Styris, Vettori, Harris who were decent bowlers on any track. Dravid scored a run a ball 153 with the help of 15 fours and a six. This match also marked the highest score at that point of time by an Indian with Sachin scoring 186 runs of 150 balls.
The match against England in Bristol in 2007 Natwest Series is one of his best ODI innings. Upon winning the toss, Dravid chose to bat first. All Indian batsmen had a great outing that day. Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar made yet another 100 run stand for the opening wicket. Rahul walked in when the scoreboard showed 180/2 in 31.3 overs after Sachin was given out in nervous nineties one more time.
He had the responsibility of finishing it big for India to set up a good target. He played his natural game yet again by not going for the big shots but just playing the ball to its merit and punishing the loose balls. He scored 92 off 63 balls with a strike rate of 146. This innings consisted of 11 boundaries and a six. He exhibited how strong he was through the leg-side with his beautiful glances and on-drives. He also cut the ball hard through point region. Apart from the boundaries, Dravid never failed to nudge the ball around for 1s and 2s
Yuvraj scored a brisk 49 to take the score beyond 300. India finally put on 327 on the board and at the end of the day, they were able to defend it. Rahul Dravid was adjudged as the Man of the Match for his quick fire 92, inarguably one of his best ODI innings ever. One has to say that, Rahul Dravid – a true gentleman - never got his credit for the wonderful work he has done for this sport. Because, he was not a hero. He was a silent guardian, a watchful protector... a Dark Knight.