Rahul Dravid's retirement March 9, 2012

Eight of Dravid's best

Rahul Dravid retired from Test and domestic first-class cricket on March 9. We look back at eight of his best Test performances from his 16-year long career

180 v Australia, Kolkata, 2001
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One-half of a partnership that propelled India to one of their most memorable and famous Test victories. VVS Laxman's record-breaking 281 at No.3 overshadowed Dravid's contribution in a game, and series, turning 376-run stand that helped India bounce back and win - only the third time in 1535 Test matches that a team won a Test after following-on.

Dravid's failures in his previous three innings in the series had him under pressure when came out to bat at No.6* on the third day, a time when winning the game was far from Indian minds. Laxman set the pace and Dravid played the supporting hand. The pair took matters session by session until the plan developed to batting out the entire fourth day and building a lead sizeable enough for the spinners to play their part on the final day.

Though there wasn't much in the track for the bowlers on the fourth day, Australia bowled with intent only to run into a more determined pair, and they eventually tired. Dravid grew in confidence to shrug off his poor form early in the series and struck 20 fours in a stand that lasted more than 100 overs. "There were times that we were tired and were constantly egging each other on, especially after tea on the fourth day," Laxman would say later about the stand. "In that situation, the talking between overs is really helpful. He [Dravid] would say things like 'This is what we have worked so hard for'."

87 v South Africa, Port Elizabeth, 2001
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There was a lot weighing on India players' minds in the wake of match referee Mike Denness' decisions but the team needed to put up a fight on the final day after South Africa had set them 395. Needing to save the Test and keep the series alive, India lost opener SS Das in the first over. In conditions where the bowlers had just enough assistance, Dravid and Deep Dasgupta batted with plenty of patience and determination to help draw the game. The pair added 171, batting more than 80 overs, to keep the South Africa bowlers, who bowled with discipline, at bay. By the time Dravid fell, India had more or less achieved their aim.

"It's also nice, from a personal point of view, to bat with Rahul because my game is somewhat like his in terms of patience; when you have a Sachin or a [Virender] Sehwag at the other end, its easy to get carried away and try something that doesn't come naturally to you," Dasgupta said later.

144* v West Indies, Georgetown, 2002
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Dravid helped India draw the Georgetown Test against West Indies after they were in early trouble in response to the hosts' 501. India lost two wickets early and Dravid came in at No.5, with his team on 99 for 3. Dravid's unbeaten 144 also helped India arrest a trend of defeats in the first Test of overseas series, and they went on to win the next Test in Port of Spain, their first in the West Indies since 1976.

Dravid's century came in testing circumstances - he was struck hard by a Mervyn Dillon bouncer on his helmet and was given a couple of pain-killing tablets; his goal was to carry on batting until India avoided the follow-on, but he batted on long after that was achieved. He batted for more than seven hours, and was involved in century stands with VVS Laxman and offspinner Sarandeep Singh, who gave him company as India averted the follow-on.

148 v England, Headingley, 2002
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An innings that was critical in helping India win their first Test in England in 16 years and level the series. India took a gamble by opting to bat in conditions that were favourable for fast bowling but Dravid dug in, battled the elements and made a decisive 148, setting the foundation for a 600-plus score in a solid stand with Sanjay Bangar. The plan was to bat, taking as few risks as possible until tea, wait for the conditions to ease and then step up. It worked perfectly, as England lost steam after tea and a 170-run stand with Bangar provided the base for Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly to dominate the bowling. India, who played two spinners, won by an innings and Dravid deservedly won the Man-of-the-Match award for his 307-ball knock that was key in India taking first-day honours and dictating the flow of the Test from there on.

233 and 72* v Australia, Adelaide, 2003
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A pair of innings that did as much as any other to erase the "tigers at home, paper tigers abroad" tag that dogged Indian cricket. As the visitors' top-order folded in Adelaide, it seemed Steve Waugh's team would hand out another hiding, similar to the ones India suffered on the previous tour in 1999. Dravid and Laxman, though, brought back memories of the extraordinary 2001 Kolkata Test with a game-turning 303-run stand. Dravid wasn't through yet. The epic double-century in the first innings was backed up with a four-hour 72, capitalising on a rare Adam Gilchrist drop, which took India over the line for their first victory in Australia in 23 years. Australia were left to wonder how they lost a Test despite making 556 in the first innings.

270 v Pakistan, Rawalpindi, 2004
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It was India's first visit to Pakistan in 15 years, and predictably the hype surrounding the series was feverish. India had never won a Test series in Pakistan and, worse, hadn't succeeded in a Test series abroad for more than a decade. That blot was erased with Dravid's 12-hour opus in the deciding match at Rawalpindi. It wasn't his most fluent effort - the timing was off early on, and there were several chances - but, again, he highlighted his ability to persevere, carving out the longest Test innings by a player from India. He joked that six-day Tests would be needed for him to try break Lara's record of 400, though his final 100 runs came at a run-a-ball. That gave India the luxury of more than two days to bowl out Pakistan, which they duly did to clinch a ground-breaking victory.

81 and 68 v West Indies, Kingston, 2006
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A couple of minefield masterclasses to secure another path-breaking success for India. West Indies might not have been at their world-dominating best, but their fast bowlers proved unplayable to everyone but Dravid on a brutal track in Sabina Park. Every nuance of Dravid's much-lauded defensive technique was on display as he weathered the pace and hostility of Jerome Taylor to make a first-innings 81, even as the rest of the specialist batsmen floundered. The next day, he proved a one-man bulwark as the batting crumbled again - hardly beaten on the day as he crafted another half-century. A series-winning hand that set the new gold standard for a captain's innings.

117 v England, Nottingham, 2011
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Even 15 years into his career, Dravid was shunted around from his favoured No. 3 spot. At Trent Bridge, he was pushed up to open on a perfect surface for fast bowlers, against the high-quality attack of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan. He was battered in the first hour, struck on the wrist and then had his fingers jammed by the bouncing ball.

With the ball fizzing around, he played and missed innumerable times but he told himself "as long as I'm here, I'm going to make it count". With another display of his enormous powers of concentration, he constructed his 34th Test century, drawing level with Sunil Gavaskar and Brian Lara. To counter the swing, he played as late as he could and shelved the extravagant strokes. It was only against the relatively less threatening off spin of Graeme Swann that he showcased the range of his shot-making. Despite his hard-working hundred, India weren't able to take the advantage as their lower-order capsized dramatically. It was the last day in which India put up a fight in the highly anticipated series that ended in a humiliating whitewash.

*15:17 GMT, March 9: The article had said Rahul Dravid batted at No.5. This has been corrected.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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