The Ultimate Driving Machine

When his side is reeling from the loss of early wickets and Rahul Dravid steps into the breach, watching him is something akin to the comforting thunk of the central locking on an expensive saloon as you’re driving through a particularly dodgy part of town. Danger is averted; the sense of panic passes; the blood pressure settles down because you know things will be okay.

There hasn’t been that reassurance from Dravid for a while in international cricket. He’s looked uneasy at the crease; a man struggling with the weight of all those runs already scored for India and with the expectation of their continuation, and while young guns like Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina have been snapping at his heels you get the feeling it’s not been the age so much as the mileage. Unceremoniously dumped from the ODI side in October, his domestic form recently has been superb, averaging 77 for Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy, so perhaps it was only ever going to be a matter of time before he gave notice to these pretenders that the Wall was not for shifting.

And so it was today. He finished Day One of this first Test against Sri Lanka on 177 not out, out of a total of 385. Marshalling India from a potentially-catastrophic 32-4, his innings comprised 26 free-flowing fours and a six slapped imperiously off Rangana Herath over long-on. He shared in two 100-partnerships with Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni, and reached the milestone of 11000 Test runs, passing Steve Waugh in the process. Cuts, drives, pulls, flicks off the pad; this Dravid was a re-tuned, fuel-injected version of the model that scored runs in New Zealand back in March but never looked entirely convincing. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen him play with such confidence and exuberance; his timing was perfect, his placement impeccable. This was not the immovable object so much as the unstoppable force.

“I’ve been playing for a long time. I’ve been around the scene for a long time,” he said afterwards. “It’s nice. I guess it is something about my longevity. I’ve been able to be consistent over pretty decent periods of time which has helped me stack up these numbers. It’s a nice thing.”

Yes. Yes it is. Even if he gets out first ball tomorrow morning it doesn’t matter, because this has been one of the great Test innings.

One Response to “The Ultimate Driving Machine”

  1. Rama says:

    At the end of the day you can't teach temperament, and that's what Dravid oozes. The imitators in the ODI side don't come close, which does not portend well for the future of the test side without the big 3, unfortunately…

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