Rahul Dravid - The warrior will be sorely missed
The Indian innings begins. The openers go out to bat. They manage to bat it out for a while, but soon a wicket falls. As the fallen batsman walks back to the pavilion, out comes a warrior. Clad in blue, eyes sharp and serious, he makes his customary determined walk to the pitch. He takes guard, marks it, looks around, swiftly adjusts his helmet and takes his stance. At this point, it is wise on the part of the bowler not to look straight at him – facing such a look of profound concentration is not easy.
Then the bowler bowls. A quick shuffle, the left foot comes forward, the bat follows spontaneously in perfect alignment, and before the bowler knows where he went wrong, the perfectly timed shot sees the ball race to the fence. Ravi Shastri, although having said the same phrase for a million times, has no choice but to repeat “That is text book cricket at it’s very best!” When are you going to see this again? Sadly, never.
It is the later part of the 1990s. Venkatesh Prasad is bowling his heart out, a young boy named Rahul is at forward short leg. Gary Kirsten faces. The ball clips the top edge and rises into the air – and out jumps Rahul, falling over the stumps, toppling Kirsten over, somehow eventually catching the ball. Everyone on the pitch stand amazed at the young boy’s determination. When are you going to see this again? Sadly, never.
The famed Indian batting line-up is crumbling. India needs someone to save the match. The warrior is still on the pitch, wickets falling all around him, but the opposition is clueless on how to get him out. Eyes still focussed, he removes his helmet to give temporary relief to his hyper-active sweat glands. And then the helmet is back on, the concentration is back, and the innings continues – but the bowler still can’t find a way to get him out. He plays, he plays and he plays his heart out, working for each run, eventually leading India past the victory line. When are you going to see this again? Sadly, never.
People say he is a slow batsman. People say he has a low strike rate. And then, the warrior arrives, plays a blitzkrieg and scores India’s second fastest ever one-day fifty. Where are the critics now? When are you going to see such an innings again? Sadly, never.
People say he was unfit for one-day cricket. He gets dropped from the one-day squad, and remains forgotten. Two years later, he is called upon. India needs him. And the warrior obliges – no questions asked. He gives his all, returns as the best performer of the series. He then plays his debut T20 for India and scores three sixes of three balls. When are you going to see all this again? Sadly, never.
Rahul Dravid is not just a cricketer. Rahul Dravid is not just a human. He is not just an epitome of hard-work, a living example of passion. Rahul Dravid means much more. Rahul Dravid is as much a part of my life as cricket is. India without cricket is unimaginable – and to me, so is cricket without Rahul Dravid. It was good to know that although anything may happen in the world of cricket, there was always the next Rahul Dravid innings to look forward to. Life without Rahul Dravid is unimaginable, the calmness in the face and aggression in the eyes will be sorely missed.