Pretoria: With all the attention on Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid’s role in India’s fantastic World Cup win over Pakistan, last Saturday, got underplayed. Yet, had the vice-captain not produced another sterling innings, at No. 5, the bottomline may not have been so convincing.
“I’ve always maintained the No. 5 position has given a new dimension to my one-day game... I knew what the requirement was and simply worked towards achieving that,” Dravid told The Telegraph Monday afternoon.
Chatting at the Holiday Inn (on the second off day in succession), Dravid added: “In fact, in the last two-three overs, I eased off to take in the atmosphere. At that stage, our victory was assured and I thought, well, let me enjoy the moment... Cheering fans, hundreds of tri-coloured flags... It was incredible and certainly without precedent overseas.”
Not that Dravid got carried away, but he had a “blank mind” when he faced Waqar Younis on what became the last delivery. “I just went for the (four-fetching) pull... Actually, didn’t think of anything, though I knew that hit would take us past Pakistan.”
It’s significant that batting first or second, Dravid has been around till the end or thereabouts in the three key matches after India lost to Australia. Against Zimbabwe, he got an unbeaten 43 and followed that up with 62 versus England. At Centurion, he remained not out on 44.
Dravid, of course, didn’t forget to compliment Yuvraj Singh (unbeaten on 50). “He’s turning into an amazing one-day cricketer and is maturing with every series/tournament. I’m sure he will keep up this good work.”
But was the SuperSport Park finish the most pleasing in seven years of big-league cricket' Dravid thought for just a moment and answered: “I wasn’t there till the end, but that NatWest final (against England) will remain more special than the others... The finale was spectacular.”
Meanwhile, while most players opted for a jet-skiing and swimming trip to Vereeniging, organised by a friend of Anil Kumble, the likes of Dravid and Jawagal Srinath opted for a workout in the gym before heading for Johannesburg.
The other category — comprising captain Sourav Ganguly, Ashish Nehra, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh — chose to busy themselves with table tennis and pool at the Team Room in the hotel. While Sourav beat Sehwag, he lost to Yuvraj in table tennis. The pool table was monopolised by Sehwag and Nehra.
The Indians leave for Cape Town early Tuesday. Their first Super Six engagement, versus the No. 2 team in Pool B, comes off Friday.