Veteran Indian batsman Rahul Dravid announced his retirement from international cricket today, hanging up his boots after an amazing 16-year career. The prolific right hander is the second-highest run-getter in Test cricket just behind team mate Sachin Tendulkar with 13,288 runs from 164 matches at an average of 52.31 with 36 centuries.
Dravid, 39, told the reporters at a news conference in Bangalore that it is time to move on and make way for the new generation of players to make their own history. More interestingly, Dravid is also one of just 10 batsmen to score more than 10,000 runs in one-day cricket. His tally stands at 10,889 runs from 344 matches at 39.16 with 12 hundreds.
Dravid, often referred to as the Wall for his unique ability to see through an innings as the backbone of the team, when he was needed the most, was also one of the safest fielders on the ground in modern day cricket with 210 test and 196 ODI catches. On Nov. 24, 2011, he became the second international player to reach 13,000 runs in Test Cricket after Sachin Tendulkar.
Let’s have a look at the Wall’s six greatest Test knocks.
6. 190 and 103 vs. New Zealand (Third Test, January 2006, Hamilton): Dravid proved his worth in the team displaying his sensational batting prowess in Hamilton, New Zealand, in 2006 when he was at his best, stroking a 190 in the first innings to challenge and later overhaul New Zealand’s score of 366. He was again tested in the second innings when India were struggling with just 55 runs on the scoreboard having lost two quick wickets, chasing a massive 415. Although the game was on its way towards a draw, Dravid and team mate Sourav Ganguly took the matter in their hands to see off the game without any problems. Dravid again hit a hundred (103 at a strike rate of over 74) in a more dominating fashion.
5. 110 and 135 vs. Pakistan (Second Test, March 2005, Kolkata): The Indians knew the importance of this test after the Pakistanis put up a valiant fight in the first test and saving the game from a hopeless situation. Two important centuries by Dravid paved the way for a huge win for the Indians. He first took India to a total of 407 in the first innings but that was later challenged by centuries from Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan. India had a small lead of 14 runs and the team was struggling with just 156 on the score sheet with four wickets already down. Dravid then took a stand with Dinesh Karthik with a partnership of 165 runs and saw the team commanding the rest of the game.
4. 270 vs. Pakistan (Third Test, April 2004, Rawalpindi): The Pakistan tour was a historic event as it once again resumed the cricketing ties between the two neighboring countries. The series was locked at 1-1 and both the teams geared up for the final test at Rawalpindi. Although Pakistan were dismissed for 224, they still managed to put pressure on the Indian top order when in-form Sehwag was out at the first ball. Dravid walked in at this point and decided that he will see off any challenge from the opposition, and struck crucial partnerships with the middle order batsmen. India put up a massive 600 on the board and later clinched the historic Test series 2-1.
3. 177 vs. Sri Lanka (First Test, November 2009, Ahmedabad): The Indian top order batsmen were rattled by a previously unknown Sri Lankan pacer, Chanaka Welegedara, on the first morning at Ahmedabad. Batsmen Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Laxman were back in the dressing room in quick successions leaving Dravid again with the task of batting with the middle and lower order batsmen. He, along with left-hander Yuvraj Singh, started to counter the attack from the opposition and put the Lankans under pressure. His knock consisted of confident strokes and once the conditions started to ease down a bit, Dravid unleashed a selection of belligerent shots. Although the result of the game was not very memorable, the effort Dravid put in was one of his best.
2. 233 vs. Australia (Second Test, December 2003, Adelaide): Here Dravid, along with Laxman, had decided to inflict as much misery on the Australians, led by veteran Steve Waugh, as possible. The Australians had already scored a blistering 556, riding Ricky Ponting’s double century, and were firmly in control of the game. They made their dominance more prominent when India were reduced to 85 for four. However, Dravid had other plans and decided to take matters in his own hand. He was never bogged down and yet again displayed his class to the world. He reached his hundred with an emphatic six, and the double hundred with a four. His 233, along with Laxman’s well-scored 148 took India within 33 runs of Australia’s huge total. Later a dream spell from Ajit Agarkar rattled the Australian batting line-up and the hosts were held to a total of 196. Needing 230 to win, Dravid scored another 72 not out, and hit the winning runs to ensure a great victory down under.
1. 180 vs. Australia (Second Test, March 2001, Kolkata): Termed as one of the greatest comebacks in world cricket, the then Indian coach, Kiwi John Wright in his book, “Indian Summer, referred to the Kolkata test as “The Greatest Comeback since Lazarus”. India were dismissed with the team still needing 274 runs to counter the Australian total and Steve Waugh enforced the follow on. Indians altered their batting order as Laxman walked in at number three and Dravid dropped down to number six. However, they found each other at the opposite ends at 232 for 4 when the primary objective was to save the game. On day four, the duo went for the kill and frustrated the Aussies by batting the whole day. Dravid was battling cramps and dehydration even as he played an excellent support role for the classy Laxman. Later, when he reached his well-deserved hundred, he gestured towards the dressing room to show how important the inning was.