Unpopular Opinion: Rahul Dravid was the most impactful Test batter of his time
Rahul Dravid, the man who was always overshadowed (PC: Twitter)
Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis, Ricky Ponting, Brian Lara, these are big enough names. They have always been in the running to be the best during their time. But amidst all of them a man was doing his duty silently for his team, always deprived of the spotlight, Rahul Dravid.
Brain Lara has the record of scoring the highest runs in a Test innings, 400 vs England. Ricky Ponting is the second highest run scorer in Test cricket (13,378), while Kallis has the second highest number of Hundreds in Test cricket (45). Speaking of the great Sachin Tendulkar there is no apparent batting record that does not belong to him. Amidst all these greats it is a massive demand to claim that Rahul Dravid was the most impactful Test batter of his time.
But wait till you see the evidence supporting the claim. Here are the series defining performances of Rahul Dravid.
The historic partnership at Kolkata
25 and 180 vs Australia, Kolkata, 2001
A historic Test and it was Rahul Dravid who was out there for India along with VVS Laxman. This is just the second Test in the history of the game where a team won after being followed on. Dravid scored 180 runs while being involved in an epic partnership with VVS Laxman (281) in the 3rd innings of the match. Indian won the match by 171 runs and halted the 16 match winning streak of the mighty Aussies.
148 vs England, Headingley, Leeds, 2002
India opted to bat first on a seaming and bouncy wicket by England. Rahul Dravid came out to bat when India’s score was 15 for 1. When Dravid finally departed after scoring 148 runs, India was 335 for 3. If not for Dravid and Bangar’s gritty effort at the top India would not have reached the mammoth total of 628 runs.
Notably the match also saw hundreds by Sachin (193) and Sourav Ganguly (128). India won the match by an innings and 46 runs. The benefits of Dravid’s valiant efforts were reaped by the middle order and the team rode on that to win the match.
The sole batting act in Adelaide,2003
233 and 72 vs Australia, Adelaide, 2003
Under the pressure of a huge total by the Australians, Dravid displayed extraordinary batsmanship to score 233 runs in India’s first innings of the match. He made 72 runs in the fourth innings to ensure that India won the match by 4 wickets. On the back of this win India was able to take a lead in the series and later drew a series in the backyard of the mighty Aussies.
Masterclass against the arch-rivals in Rawalpindi, 2004
270 vs Pakistan, Rawalpindi, 2004
The series was tied at 1-1 at the beginning of this Test. Rahul Dravid walked out to bat when India was 0 for 1. After nearly batting for 13 hours when he walked out scoring 270 runs India was 593 for 9. India won the match by an innings and 131 runs and with that series by a margin of 2-1.
80 and 47 vs South Africa, Kolkata, 2004
South Africa posted a total of 305 runs in the first innings. At 15 for 1 Rahul Dravid walked out to bat and scored 80 runs. He along with Sehwag’s 88 ensured that India took a crucial first innings lead. In the second innings he once again walked out at 15 for 1 and ensured that he batted till the end taking India across the line. India won the match by 8 wickets and with that the series by 1-0 margin.
Besides these top 5 matches in his career, there are also three more series defining performances by Dravid. While his numbers are more than decent in Test cricket, they are not in the levels of Sachin, Ponting, Kallis or Lara.
But we need to understand one thing: it is not always the numbers that define the greatness of a player. What is his average somewhere? How many runs have he scored at a venue? These are secondary if you as a cricket fan have witnessed Test cricket at its best and felt the tension of the moment in which Dravid has scored these vital runs.