| Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar await their turn at the nets in Chennai Wednesday. (Reuters)
Chennai: For a man who is on the verge of equalling a formidable world record, Rahul Dravid was remarkably phlegmatic Wednesday afternoon. There was no inkling of any tension, no thought of failures. It was just another day for him at the team nets.
“There are no special preparations and I’m not keeping myself aware of any record,” Dravid said.
Inarguably in the most productive phase of his international career, Dravid carried on from where he had left off in England, to post his fourth century in as many innings in Mumbai. He followed up knocks of 115 (Trent Bridge), 148 (Headingley) and 217 (The Oval) with 100 (retired hurt) to join a select band of two others with four straight hundreds in consecutive innings — Alan Melville of South Africa and Aussie Jack Fingleton.
Only Everton Weekes (5 in 5) is ahead. The West Indian’s sequence began with 148 versus England at Sabina Park in 1948. This was followed by the tour to India where he hit 128 in the first Test in Delhi and followed it up with scores of 194 in Bombay and 162 and 101 in Calcutta.
“I’m just going to play my normal game. If it happens, well and good,” Dravid added.
A quiet reserved man, his batting reflects his personality. Dravid is not the sort to try and grab centre stage, always preferring to work his way quietly. This trait has sometimes seen him being overshadowed by more flamboyant colleagues but he is content with being his own self.
Dravid’s approach remains uncomplicated and delightful. The quality of his strokeplay, the purity in his technique and the calm assurance in his temperament are his forte.
Of late, he has also been a revelation as a wicketkeeper in the shorter version of the game. Dravid’s graceful acceptance of the role has given the one-day side the much-needed “balance” ahead of the World Cup.
“It was important for the side that the wicketkeeper contribute handsomely and regularly and he has given us the option of playing an extra batsman,” says captain Sourav Ganguly.
Despite all the initial criticism, Dravid has eased into his new role giving it his everything. For instance, he caught a batsman standing up to Sourav, and stumped another off Harbhajan Singh. Even though the odd ball bounces embarrassingly out of his gloves, he takes it in his stride.
He seems to set new standards batting at number three, another position few believed he could have made his own. Often dropping anchor at that slot, he also acts as an ideal foil to the aggression of a Yuvraj Singh or a Mohammed Kaif.
The Bangalorean’s phenomenal overseas record will put most of his more illustrious peers to shame but he has now made it a habit of living up to expectations.
Equalling Weekes will put him up there in the elite panel, something he richly deserves on the path of his transformation from a good batsman to being a great one.