The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Handling pressure the key today: Dravid

Few should scream if one declares thereís Rahul Dravid and, then, there are others. Of course, the modest Dravid will be the first to discourage that branding but, such has been his consistency, one just canít avoid that.

Though pretty reluctant to pick his top five batsmen, exclusively for The Telegraph, Dravid agreed after mulling over the idea for a couple of days. As it turned out, the Indian vice-captain spoke during the on-going Test.

The following are excerpts

On the qualities he would look for in a batsman

Technique, consistency and the ability to concentrate... The range of shots and hunger for runs... Also, his handling of pressure. Today, especially, that last bit is very important.

On the criteria for choosing his top five

Firstly, Iíve gone for batsmen Iíve played with or against. Also, Iíve picked only those with a minimum of 50 Test appearances. After all, you should judge somebody after seeing him over a period of time.

On his top five (alphabetically)

Frankly, in principle, I donít like choosing one over the other and, at the outset itself, I must say Iíve had to leave out a number of outstanding batsmen...Andy Flower, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting, Sanath Jayasuriya, Saeed Anwar and, of course, Sourav Ganguly... Itís unfortunate... Having said that, my shortlist reads:

Aravinda De Silva: There was a phase in 1997-98, I think, when Aravinda was in the midst of an exceptional run... Once set, he simply couldnít be dislodged ó both in Tests and ODIs.

The shot he would pay to watch: The pull, without a doubt.

Jacques Kallis: With a good technique he is, by far, South Africaís best batsman... Besides an excellent range of shots, Kallis is superb even off the back foot... Moreover, he has such all-round talent.

The shot he would pay to watch: Cover drive.

Brian Lara: A great entertainer with an amazing range. Clearly, on his day, he can win any game single-handedly. Brianís absence during this series has worked out well for us but, honestly, fans in India have lost out.

The shot he would pay to watch: Cover drive.

Sachin Tendulkar: Top-bracket technique, all the shots in the book... His hunger for runs is incredible and so is his consistency... From 1989-90 till now... Then, Sachin has such a great head. Indeed, itís been an absolute privilege sharing the dressing room with him.

The shot he would pay to watch: Straight drive.

Steve Waugh: Again, remarkable consistency and a terrific hunger for runs. Under pressure, not many can play as well as Steve... Grit, determination... He has loads of both.

The shot he would pay to watch: Surely, any of his defensive ones.

Finally, on his advice to upcoming batsmen

(Smiles) Youíve got to enjoy batting, youíve got to enjoy the challenge. Most of all, youíve got to accept that the going will often be rough. Once youíre clear about that, keep batting.

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