June 7, 2010

‘King’ston special: an excerpt

A couple of months ago I helped a friend with a write up on my favourite cricketer - Rahul Dravid. I was rereading it today ti see if it will put me to sleep when I chanced upon this. And I thought I should post it here!

Time: The 2006  Series against (and in) the West Indies

The 4-1 loss in the one-day series hurt and what hurt more was the close margins in a couple of games. So as India took on the West Indies in the test series in June, the Windies held the upper head and the psychological edge. The Calypso music and beers were out and so was the sun. India had squandered two wonderful chances during their last two trips. Although, Lara was still around the West Indies team was much weaker than even the one India had visited in 2002. The bowling was piecemeal and Ramnaresh Sarwan, Chris Gayle and Chanderpaul still did not contribute enough to the West Indian batting cause. However, Indians too were without Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar and Ganguly having been deposited in the wilderness, Dravid and Laxman held the key. It was a war of attrition fought on flat pitches in the peak of summer between two teams, one on the way up and the other trying its desperate best to recapture some earlier magic.
The first three tests ended in draws though the Indian pace attack bowled its heart out with good assistance from Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble. With a 146 at Gros Islet and other half centuries in the series, the skipper Dravid was in good form when the teams arrived in the Jamaican capital for the final test at the Sabina Park. On a pitch which Lara sarcastically applauded midway through his first innings – as it suited the Indian spinners more – Dravid contributed two masterful half-centuries. And despite Dinesh Ramdin’s late second innings flourish of 68, Kumble’s six-for gave Indians the game and with it a series win. Four tests and one result: India 1-0. If ever you wanted to watch a captain’s innings again, Dravid’s 81 and 68 would be top of the draw. On a pitch where sixteen wickets fell before his, “Dravid stood like a giant among pygmies,” wrote Siddhartha Vaidyanathan.

Another excerpt from Siddhartha Vaidyanathan’s report to cricinfo during the test sums Dravid’s efforts on a pitch with “landmines buried underneath” and Jerome Taylor steaming in – straight and fast: “The ball was dead straight and kept a bit low as well. Dhoni couldn't get down in time and was bowled.Two overs later, Dravid got a similar delivery, waited till the last moment, watched the ball all through and brought his bat down confidently. Taylor might as well have been bowling to the concrete structure behind Dravid; considering the effort he was putting in, he might have just been able to find a gap through it.” Beat that for technique, focus and resilience!

Along the way, Dravid joined an elite club of batsmen to get to 9000 runs. He was the Man of the Match and Man of the Series and nobody could grudge him that as he was streets ahead of the next best batsman in either team. The irony could not have been starker: it is crises which help distinguish men from boys. And the Indian captain was the tallest man standing at the end of the Jamaica test as India ended a 35 year series victory drought in the West Indies. From Adelaide to Headingley to Rawalpindi to Jamaica four of India’s five great wins abroad in the last three years all had Dravid’s name imprinted in bold. From a second fiddle to the chief artiste at the orchestra, Dravid had transformed himself from a good batsman to a great batsman to a captain leading from the front and with the undeniable force of on-field performance. And if at that point Dravid had thought the sky was the limit you would not have thought twice before nodding.   

4 comments:

Indli said...

Your blog is cool. To gain more visitors to your blog submit your posts at indli.com

vEnKy said...

I remember that disastrous ODI series thats when we lost everything, we were going great guns till then. I remember one match were we needed one wicket to win the match and it was the last over of the match and Sreesanth managed to bowl only wide outside off stump.

vibhuthi said...

Thanks for reminding us of that test in the Windies.Yes,Dravid stood tall among all the batsmen in both the teams put together.India came close to winning a match before that,but somehow,the Windies managed to scrape through.They were nowhere near their best,neither were we at our full strength.Also, Kumble contributed significantly with the bat in both the innings.Harbhajan had a fifer in the first innings and he was talked about to run through the line-up again,on our news channels.But,I,before going to bed that night,knew that if we had to win,then it had to be that giant of a man in Indian cricket,Anil Kumble.
I am,quite obsessed with the tests.From your previous post,when do you think would be ideal to bring in the young talent to the test team and testthem?Should we wait for the retirements of RD,SRT,VVS or would we be better of testing a couple of others,since we are supposed to play away series in Australia,England,SA,WI starting from the end of this year,going till the end of next year?Who would you try out?I do not expect any of the three to retire at least till all the above tours are completed.But still,as with Dravid under the most unexpected of circumstances in Bangladesh,there is a possibility that someone could get injured.I ask this because there is a possibility that Yuvraj Singh might not be selected for the tests in Sri Lanka coming in July.That can be used as an opportunity,that,if our selectors happen to see one.

Srini said...

Venky,

Dravid pathi pesa maataye! :O :D

Vibuthi,

Makes the two of us: the obsession about test cricket I mean!!! :D And you're right, I remember Anil Kumble playing gritty innings in both the outings at Kingston. And what's more I have always put Jumbo over anybody else - the man has a huge heart and his chipping in with the bat and the 6-for in the last innings proved his mettle for the umpteenth time though the man was beyond the need to prove by then!

As for the upcoming tours - thanks for enlightening me, I hardly keep track these days - I would say (without offence to the West Indies cricket team) that that may be the tour for experimentation among those four; may be even England to some extent. And I would probably take Rohit and Badri and give them each a chance. (I do not know of the number of tests). But I believe this can be done even without RSD, SSR or VVS missing out. Because it brings me to my point on Yuvraj: I just thing the man is not good enough for tests. He is a phenomenal talent but for years I have been saying he does not have the temperament for tests and he has not shown anything to prove me wrong. So for me, already one spot - the one vacated by Ganguly, given (unfortunately and unfairly) by default to Yuvraj - - is open.

The South African and Australian tours, especially the former - since we have done much worse there in the last ten years if you look at it - are things Tendulkar and Dravid would want to include in their CV with a tick. Although I doubt if that may be the outcome, I would still think neither would want to miss you. Having said that, if India go onto an unassailable lead (a romantic thought) or a irrevocable trail in the series before it is over then I do not see why Tendulkar and Dravid should play those tests which will do only to enhance their already fine averages. In such games they can actually be requested to make way for the younger players!

And oh yes if someone gets injured I would probably give Rohit a place - on current form and class as you mentioned. Once again I am extremely doubtful if he has the tightness of defence or the head yet for the long haul!