SK Flashback: Rahul Dravid declares with Sachin Tendulkar on 194
13 years ago, stand-in skipper, Rahul Dravid made one of the most controversial decisions by an Indian Indian skipper.
Multan – March 28, 2004
India were playing Pakistan after a five-year long hiatus due to political issues between the two countries and the series was keenly viewed upon by fans all over the world. The stakes don't get much higher than when these two sides lock horns. The long gap between their meetings only added fuel to the ever existing competitive spirit between the teams.
India did not have the services of their permanent Test skipper, Sourav Ganguly, who was out injured and Rahul Dravid was the skipper in his stead. India won the toss and chose to bat on what seemed like a flat Multan wicket.
Virender Sehwag was in one of his moods and thrashed the Pakistan bowlers all around the park. He was on 228* by the end of the day with Sachin Tendulkar remaining unbeaten on 60. India had already notched up 356 for the loss of just two wickets on Day 1 courtesy Sehwag's blast.
Day 2 saw the Indian opener complete a historic triple hundred, becoming the first Indian to the landmark. He fell soon afterwards, but Tendulkar had by then worked his way to yet another hundred.
Yuvraj gave him company towards the end with a typically aggressive knock since India had the foundation laid already.
The tea-time discussion and agony
With India on 588/4 at tea, Tendulkar was supposedly informed that India were looking to have a go at Pakistan for 15 overs before the close of play, which meant he had ample time to complete a double hundred.
However, with 17 overs remaining and the Master Blaster on 194*, Ramesh Powar, who brought drinks to the field, seemingly informed Tendulkar that Dravid was planning to declare after this over and that he had to score his double hundred in that very over.
As things panned out, Tendulkar never got to play a ball in the over. Yuvraj faced four balls from Imran Farhat before he was dismissed off the fifth ball and Dravid called his men in with India on 675/5, much to the surprise and horror of millions of Indian supporters.
India would go on to win the game by an innings and 52 runs with a day to spare. Pakistan were bowled out for 407 in the first innings with none of their batsmen reaching a century. Irfan Pathan took four wickets while Tendulkar himself chipped in with two including the crucial one of Moin Khan.
Yousuf Youhana tried to save some grace with a hundred when Pakistan was following on, but the pitch had worn out and Anil Kumble was too hot to handle for the hosts. The current Indian coach ended up with six wickets as Pakistan were bowled out for 216, 52 runs short of making India bat a second time.
Dravid's view about the declaration
Rahul Dravid spoke about the issue, which snowballed into a huge controversy in the next few days after the series. "Retrospect is a beautiful thing. If I had known that the Test would finish in four days I would not have declared then," he had revealed in a function celebrating India's win after the series.
"Both Sachin and I have a sore throat now clarifying. It has been made a bigger issue than it is. At least it is not an issue in the team. We have sorted it out. We respect each other too much to let it linger on," Dravid continued.
Dravid's controversial decision on Day 2 of the important series became a huge talking point in both countries and amongst fans.
John Wright's views
India's coach at the time, John Wright later revealed in his autobiography, "John Wright's Indian Summers", that Tendulkar was pretty upset about the declaration. Although Wright refrained from playing a blame game, he insisted that Dravid should have possibly declared much earlier, when Tendulkar wasn't so close to a double ton.
India had a sizeable score by then and the declaration would have given India a chance to bowl at the Pakistani batsmen late in the day with the new ball.
"I should have convinced Dravid to declare earlier and he should have grasped that it's one thing to declare when a batsman's 170 or 180, quite another when he's 194. And Tendulkar should have pushed to get there quicker," the Kiwi told.
Tendulkar had already revealed to the press soon after the game that he was disappointed to not get the double hundred. That had been a catalyst to the huge uproar against Dravid's decision. But more of the background details became clearer when Tendulkar released his autobiography, "Playing It My Way".
The Master Blaster revealed that he felt "let down" by the decision and was in a shock. Once he reached the dressing room, Tendulkar calmly kept his gear down, preferring not to talk to anyone. He told Dravid to "leave him alone" while also stated that John Wright and non-playing skipper, Sourav Ganguly, came to apologise to him.
“I was shocked as it did not make any sense. It was Day 2 of the Test match and not Day 4, as it had been in Sydney, a month earlier," Tendulkar revealed in his book.
“I assured Rahul that the incident would have no bearing on my involvement on the field, but off the field, I would prefer to be left alone for a while to come to terms with what had happened.
“Despite this incident, I am glad to say Rahul and I remained good friends and even on the field, our camaraderie remained intact until the end of our careers. We continued to have some good partnerships and neither our cricket nor our friendship was affected," Tendulkar concluded.
The incident is 13 years old but the controversy created is yet to die, although the participants, Dravid and Tendulkar, have confirmed that things are good between them.
The duo share too strong a bond for such issues to affect their relationship and their long-standing Indian career together, even after the incident, reveals the kind of camaraderie they shared in the Indian dressing room.