Rahul Dravid: The underrated legend in ODIs
On one hand, he is referred to as the unsung hero, the silent guardian, a watchful protector, the Dark Knight of Indian cricket... lurking in the shadows guarding the susceptibilities. If Sachin Tendulkar was the Superman of Indian cricket, Rahul Dravid indeed was the Dark Knight.
But, I’d rather call him the underrated legend. Though his contributions in Test cricket are widely acknowledged by one and all, he is far underrated in limited-overs cricket and that’s what we’re concerned with, and that’s where a lot of cricket pundits undermine his efforts.
Always overshadowed by his teammates like Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, had Dravid played for any other team, he’d have been their “Superman”, but again, there can only be one sword in a sheath, one king in a kingdom, and likewise, one best player in a team and India had the world’s best in Tendulkar.
Let us turn some pages of history and peak into statistics and dissect them to analyse his ODI career to find out how good or bad he was in limited-overs cricket.
He was a better ODI batsman the what the cricket fans perceived
Any cricket fan should know that Dravid is 9th in the list of highest run scorers in ODI cricket, and was only the 6th cricketer to do so, and that is no mean feat. He scored 83 half centuries, only Tendulkar (95), Sangakkara (93) and Kallis (84) have scored more and that's when he is 7th on the list of batsmen to have played most number of ODI matches; and to add to that, 55 of them came for a winning cause!
His batting average is pretty much comparable to other great players like Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting, Inzamam, Sangakkara or Ganguly.
But the general perception is that the runs he scored came at the cost of the team’s run rate, which is an erroneous allegation. His strike rate, though on a lower side is still pretty much comparable to the great players of his time. Even Sangakkara and Jayawardene scored at a similar strike rate until recent times, when due to the advent of T20 cricket, scoring runs at a brisk rate became more of a necessity than a bliss.
The difference between Dravid’s strike rate or Kallis’s and Ganguly’s is but minor. The bottom-line is, they all played at the same rate, it’s just that Dravid wouldn’t play those big shots to entertain the crowd like Ganguly would, he’d rather put his head down and get on with his job of scoring runs.
Again, it must be pointed out that Dravid was also capable of hitting those big shots, as he did in his only T20 International outing, or during his IPL career, which was more successful than some other cricketers of his time, like Ganguly or Ponting. He has the record of second fastest ODI fifty by an Indian, he just took 22 balls!
Even someone like Kumar Sangakkara who played a lot of cricket in the T20-era scored with a strike rate of 78.