The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Yes, you can bet your life on Dravid: Kapil

Calcutta: It’s not unusual for Rahul Dravid to be flooded with compliments, yet the India vice-captain should treasure one from Kapil Dev.

“Yes, I suppose you can bet your life on Dravid, the backbone of our batting,” Kapil told The Telegraph spontaneously, Wednesday afternoon.

In the city for a promotional, the former captain added: “Dravid’s USP, in my opinion, is his exceptional attitude… Not for a moment will he give anything away…”

[Incidentally, the legendary Syed Mushtaq Ali, still ramrod-straight at 88, said much the same thing during a chat at the Wankhede, a few days ago.]

Dravid, already the quickest to four hundreds in as many Test innings, needs another three-figure knock to equal Sir Everton Weekes’ record. In fact, should Dravid get a hundred in the first innings at the Chepauk, in the Test beginning Thursday, he will be the fastest to do so.

“Well, because everybody is talking about his being on the threshold of a record, Dravid will definitely be under some pressure. Only, he’s too good a player to be overwhelmed… It would have been easier had all the attention not been on him,” Kapil observed.

[Talking to the Media in Chennai, Dravid insisted he wasn’t specifically thinking of drawing level with Sir Everton. “If it happens, well and good,” is how he put it, typically business-like.]

It’s not insignificant that neither Sir Donald Bradman himself nor the modern-day Bradman, our very own Sachin Tendulkar, have been credited with four in-a-row Test hundreds.

Asked what his impressions were when he first saw Dravid (who made his debut in 1996), Kapil answered: “That he was more compact than the others… He came through as being solid.”

Kapil added, smiling: “If anything, over the years, he has become even more solid. Moreover, his style hasn’t changed and his attitude continues to be exemplary… Clearly, in the next few years, we will be relying more on Dravid than anybody else.”

According to Kapil, Dravid’s approach is quite like Dilip Vengsarkar’s used to be. “Agreed Dilip was a shaky starter, but once he got the first 10-15 runs, he wouldn’t throw away his wicket… He wanted big scores and gave every innings his best shot. Dravid, too, isn’t the type to gift his wicket… He puts a heavy price tag — which is how it must be.”

Dravid’s fantastic run began at Trent Bridge, a shade over two months ago, when he authored that Test-saving 115. Then came the epic 148 in Leeds, followed by 217 at The Oval and exactly 100 (retired hurt) in Mumbai.

The vice-captain’s assessment is that “many factors” have been at play. Of course, yes, but the bedrock remains his own (model) character.

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