Sunday, December 14, 2008

The wall's papers

Half of us are waiting for those, and the other half too have started accepting that the papers will come sooner rather than later.

For valid reasons. While watching Dravid walk out to bat in the last half hour of play today, it was a given for me that he would get dismissed in the pre-dusk play on 4th day of the Chennai Test against England today. It took me an immense effort to grit my teeth and say to myself 'He WILL bat tomorrow." It seems almost a creditable feat that he has lived up to it and is still there on 2 not out. To think he is our no. 3, a slot supposed to be manned by the best bat.

You thought that was irony enough? Half a decade ago, Dravid scripted a famous, incredible, savoured win for India at Adelaide by scoring a double century today.

To be fair to media and Dravid's critics, I do not think anyone has really questioned Rahul's place in the team earlier than it should have happened. In fact I respect them all for having been more patient with Dravid than they have been with Tendulkar & Ganguly.

When cricinfo's Sambit Bal rates Rahul's ninety at Perth as Dravid's only contribution in an Indian Test win in the past 2 years he has my support. Players in this sport often go through similar rough patches. Some, like, Mark Taylor, Sachin and Ganguly, had extended ones in Test matches. But you start to suspect recession of a player's abilities when he keeps getting runs against lesser opponents while faltering against the big fish.

Rahul Dravid's aggregate profile over the past two years will show that his already modest Test average of 30 in this period would be downright dismal if fair weather runs and runs against lesser opposition could be counted out. In the build up to the recent Australia series he got two successive 50's in the Irani Trophy but then struggled right through a big series where every other batsman in the top 7 did well. It is almost unbelievable that we are talking about Dravid here. The same man whose innings used to be the platforms for these same other batsmen to score match winning runs in some of the biggest matches of Indian cricket.

It is really dark out there for Dravid. But then let's hope we see another day that brings rays to him. I truly wish I could go out with a guitar to Chennai tonight and sing, like young actor Imran Khan does in the hit Hindi movie 'Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na', to grief-stricken Aditi-like Dravid: 'Raat ke baad hi to savera hota hai.' I will half-expect his intelligent and sensitive skipper Dhoni to be doing something akin to that tonight.

All these excesses of emotions come out not just because I am a Dravid fan, but because I STILL believe he has 2-3 solid years of cricket left in him.

He can once again be the no. 1 player at no. 3. It is another matter if he will be.

Update: I must take this opportunity to express thanks to the present England cricket team and their authorities. Considering the larger picture, any result is acceptable to us Indian cricket supporters as the match is at least happening. That the experience has been heightened by the quality of contest is a further credit to both teams. But the match being set up in the final session today with a posibility of it going right into the final session tomorrow with all 3 results still possible is entirely the work of a genius from Najafgarh called Virender Sehwag. Plays like his innings today serve as life saving drugs for the failing health of Test cricket.

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