India v West Indies, 2nd Test, Kolkata, 1st day November 14, 2011

My easiest Eden hundred - Dravid


After the first, a mental Rubicon to cross as much as anything else, there's little doubt which of Rahul Dravid's 36 centuries was hardest to make. Number 26 at Mohali in December 2008 gave his career a lease of life. It allowed him an opportunity at this Indian summer. Had he not scored in that game, chances are that the axe would have fallen and he would have followed Sourav Ganguly into retirement.

A year later, by which time he had made two fluent centuries in a home series against Sri Lanka, he admitted that he'd have had few complaints if a young pretender had taken his place. Instead, the Indian summer keeps getting more and more golden. This hundred at Eden Gardens was his sixth in the last 12 months. Three of them came in England earlier this year, when the quality of his batsmanship was in stark contrast to the fortunes of a disintegrating team.

Dravid has seen enough of the game's vicissitudes to know that failure is never far away. "It feels like I'm in good form, in a good space with my game and mentally as well," he said after making 119 on an opening day dominated by the bat. "I'm just trying to make it count. I've been through some tough times in the past and cricket's a funny game."

This ground has a special place in his heart. The 180 and epic 376-run stand with VVS Laxman against Australia in 2001 also came after a lean trot that had seen many question his place in the XI. This innings was nothing as dramatic - "entirely different situation and circumstances," he said - and the disappointment on his face as he walked off just before stumps spoke of a man who knew he could have gone on to get far more against a limited attack on a benign pitch.

"The other three centuries [at Eden Gardens] - the 180 made with Laxman and the hundreds in both innings against Pakistan [March 2005] are very dear to me, because they were match-deciders," he said. "I'd say this was relatively the easiest."

There have been no visible changes to a technique that has always been watertight without being inflexible. He admitted, however, that a new coach has meant different suggestions. "I've worked with Duncan [Fletcher] a little bit," he said. "He reads the game well and a couple of the things he's told me have helped."

What's helped even more is the restoration of India's most prolific opening partnership. Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have added 89, 51 and 66 in this series so far, and for Dravid, who was forced to open at times in England, the extra time in the dressing room has allowed him to go back to the old routines.

He's also noticeably more relaxed in the middle these days and the eagerness to set the tone was evident in the manner in which he matched Laxman stroke for stroke as they added 140. Along the way, there were two superb shots over the rope. "I'm preparing for the IPL," he joked, while accepting that playing Twenty20 cricket had helped to an extent.

"For six weeks with your IPL team, you're hitting shots all the time," he said. "But I don't think it's just that. Whenever I've been in good form in my career, everything seems to flow. I pick up the length better and get fully forward or back. It's also about not missing out on the fours."

The sense of satisfaction was tinged with disappointment at the manner in which West Indies prised out two wickets at the end of the day's play. "The first 10 to 15 overs with the new ball are important," he said. "It would have been nice to have two set batsmen at the crease for that."

With Laxman, Mr Eden, still at the crease, there's little cause for alarm in the Indian camp. Having failed to score as a unit for most of the year, this marked a return to what the fans are used to. And it was no surprise to see Dravid at the heart of it all.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Arul on November 15, 2011, 14:43 GMT

    Dravid is the back bone of Indian cricket, the wall. He is the most reliable cricketer ever for India. When openers fails, Dravid takes the responsibility, that eases pain for other following batsman. In many partnerships, he battles when conditions are difficult. He wasn't natural talent like Sachin, but worked harder, raised the ladder and achieved the greatness. Dravid a great role model. How lucky are we to see two leading run scorers playing together(28k in total for the team). They are fit to go for few more years. Even with half form, they are more than good enough than many players. Doesn't matter who gets the ton, it still worth to watch.

  • Dummy4 on November 15, 2011, 10:15 GMT


    "Playing in the same team as Sachin is a huge honour. His balance of mind, shrewd judgement, modesty and, above all, his technical brilliance make him my all-time hero... You can't get a more complete cricketer than Sachin. He has everything that a cricketer needs to have.

    As a batsman, he has the technique, the hunger and the desire for runs. He always contributes with the bat as well as on the field. He also is a good fielder and bowls when needs. You really can't ask for a better cricketer than Sachin... He is a terrific person and has handled pressure brilliantly. He has handled his success very well and doesn't have any airs about him. He is a great guy and very good team man. In his heart of hearts, he is a very simple and down to earth person."

  • Dummy4 on November 15, 2011, 9:34 GMT

    Sarandeep have you ever held a cricket bat in your whole life?

  • Vinod on November 15, 2011, 9:18 GMT

    @Jube: Any run scored by a batsman goes to the team. All Sachin's runs have been added in India's scorecard. Dravid has played in Sachin's shadow all through his carrier and hence he could score all these runs. Have you heard the chants of 'Dravid' in the stadium, highly unlikely. No expectations from him because of which he could score freely. Sachin's presence has lot more to do in the Team than his batting alone...

  • Unni on November 15, 2011, 9:16 GMT

    Averages cannot be correct reflection of the performance.Yes Dravid is a hard working less talented batsman than Sachin and even the greatest fans will agree with the comment.The difference between Sachin and Dravid is because of their approaches Sachin tries to score of every delivery except deliveries which are to be defended and Dravid tries to defend every delivery other than those to be scored off.The approach helps Dravid to hold fort in difficult conditions and Sachin to score more in any condition.The talk that Sachin is not good in difficult conditions is not correct his performance in SA against Steyn is a good example.It was Sachins unexpected bad performance in England coupled with bad bowling culminated in poor performance of the team.

  • Vinod on November 15, 2011, 9:13 GMT

    @sarandeep45876: Unfortunately Dravid could not score runs when someone in his team scored easy runs...

  • Rohan on November 15, 2011, 9:07 GMT

    Rahul u r nt only a great player bt also an awesome human being, i've been your fan since 1996, i fought with my friends fr u against dada's huge sixes and tendulkar's centuries, i supported your slow batting , i supported your bad keeping, u were my child hood hero, now u r my man hood hero, u r my god , i want 2 be like u ,at the age of 20 i will cry like a little kid when u retire frm cricket, bt one thing fr sure there will be many many players in indian team, bt there cn never be another RAHUL DRAVID..

  • sarandeep on November 15, 2011, 8:24 GMT

    Dont worry Rahul. There is someone in your team who has made his career getting these easy centuries. So don't mind just enjoy it. And congrats :)

  • Tim on November 15, 2011, 8:19 GMT

    Yeah Dravid is having a great year but the time will come very soon when India turn to new blood. That means no more Dravid, Tendulkar or Laxman. And if injuries continue then Sehwag will not last long either while Zaheer Khan is also close to finished. As much as India wish their ageing superstars would be young forever they are within a year or two of retirement max.

  • Gavin on November 15, 2011, 7:50 GMT

    Good knock, super career, Rahul. Its time some others pursuing individual milestones learnt from you even if they're close to retirement.... The number of valuable innings (in a winning or defeat avoiding cause) you have played are possibly far greater than any other Indian batsman... You have always been a great team man

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