Calcutta, May 5: As Rudra Pratap Singh ran in at the nets, the handful of journalists and fans were hardly keeping their eyes peeled.
But a few moments — and a loud thwack — later, everyone’s mouth had fallen open. Rahul Dravid had slumped to the ground, bleeding.
A greenhorn medium-pacer had managed at the Eden Gardens what the Brett Lees and Shoaib Akhtars never did over the years at Perth or Lahore.
A short one from the left-arm seamer had left the batsman known as The Wall for his model technique and flawless defence with a bloody nose.
All doubts about the Indian captain catching the plane to Bangladesh on Monday, though, had been allayed by evening of the conditioning camp’s penultimate day.
An X-ray had shown no fracture and Dravid, his nose taped, was expected to be “back (playing) in 48 hours”, team administrative manager Surendra Bhave said.
Not too many fans, however, would have been off their dinner tonight worrying if a chink had finally appeared in Mr Dependable’s armour. Perhaps it was just the captain’s Eden jinx.
| Dravid leaves the pitch with a bleeding nose. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Dravid was booed off Sourav Ganguly’s home turf in 2005, after being offered a green-top against South Africa by a city protesting its favourite son’s ouster from team and captaincy. Early this year, he had watched the Sri Lanka game here rained off.
The wicket on the centre square today did have a bit of grass and bounce but, at around 130 km, RP is way behind the 150-plus Shoaibs, Shane Bonds and Shaun Taits in the speed stakes.
But as he bowled just short from over the wicket, India’s most successful batsman on bouncy foreign pitches misread the length. He came forward and then, realising his mistake, seemed to hesitate whether to play the ball or leave it alone. By the time he had decided to move his head away, it was too late.
The impact, which could be heard from the Club House balcony 70 yards away, slammed the visor of Dravid’s helmet against his nose, and he slumped to the ground.
He lay flat for over five minutes as physio John Gloster attended to him and the other players gathered round anxiously. When Dravid walked off the ground with a towel over his nose, his shirt was blood-splattered.
“He should be fine in a few days. We’ve advised him 48 hours’ rest and prescribed general medication, including painkillers,” said ENT surgeon Debasis Sanyal, who attended to the skipper at the Club House.
Dravid was advised a precautionary scan and a digital X-ray, neither of which was done today.
The captain skipped the afternoon practice. He was at the hotel pool with the team in the evening but didn’t get into the water. Neither did he join his mates at the dinner hosted by Bengal cricket chief Prasun Mukherjee.
RP would have enjoyed his dinner, though. His “feat” today should guarantee him a place in the one-dayers for which he has been picked.