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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ravi on March 10, 2012, 23:12 GMT

    to me the his best feats were the 02 fifties he got on an unplayable surface where the other 21 batsmen failed from both the teams.. i remember Ind were 20 for 2 from 18 overs n i was like wat the hell... y r Dravid n Laxman playin so slow.. but I realised his innings worth wen India won the match.. also his 1st centuries in South Africa and New Zealand.. truly brilliant!!

  • Abhijit on March 10, 2012, 13:44 GMT

    The one match I remember where I saw Rahul furious was in 1996-97 Tri-Series in South Africa. India and Zimbabwe comprised of the three nations. It was the final where India was chasing 251 to win. Rahul scored a brilliant 84 of 94 balls. India lost that match but the one thing I remembered was that Alan Donald intimidated Rahul in his early spells, and Rahul did not say much but you could see the anger in his eyes. He went back to his crease and he next ball his Donald over his head for mind boggling six. I have watched Rahul play many fabulous knocks but this was special because he was very angry and very aggressive which is very unlike his nature.

  • Samuel Shine on March 10, 2012, 8:37 GMT

    One of the sad days of my life. I never wanted to see this day. I don't know how to express it. Sad that my new born son did not get a chance to see him playing live. But apart from his cricketing life, his conduct was highly appreciated across the world. In fact I watched this man very closely throughout his career and I could copy his patience, humility, humbleness, honesty, sincerity, hard working, never say lost attitude. Would still love to see him with his willow. But, it is his decision for his cricketing life. Every good things comes to an end some or the other day and today Rahul successfully completes his career. Happy for him. Ofcourse, thankful to him.

  • vivek on March 10, 2012, 5:12 GMT

    REALLY.... " WELL LEFT ,DRAVID "... again , perfect timing and placement... once again he put his hands up and opened the innings by retiring and makes it easier for the glamour boys to follow the suit... immaculate... RESPECT MAN... ONE WISHES TO MEET YOU SOMEDAY , JUST TO KNOW HOW YOU THINK ABOUT THINGS... GOOD LUCK RAHUL...

  • Hari on March 9, 2012, 20:00 GMT

    A hallmark of all those brilliant victories in the early 2000s, is that Dravid was supported by, or provided support to, players like Tendulkar, Laxman and Ganguly, not to mention Anil Kumble's fantastic contribution in every one of those matches. Its that support that he lacked in England, the team spirit just doesn't seem to be the same. The toil and sweat the 2000s team (s) put into winning overseas tests is something the new generation seems to be averse to doing.

    We will miss you Rahul Dravid.

  • Sameer on March 9, 2012, 18:32 GMT

    What about his fighting 146* at The Oval in 2011, where he carried his bat and helped India reach the 300 mark. No doubt these the above 8 are also among his bests but according to me even his 146* deserves a place in the 8

  • Shanmugam on March 9, 2012, 16:42 GMT

    "it seemed Ricky Ponting's all-conquering team would hand out another hiding" Rahul Dravid's 233 and 72* was made against Steve Waugh's Australia, not Ricky Ponting's. This was Steve Waugh's last series.

  • d on March 9, 2012, 15:16 GMT

    I had the immense privilege, and pleasure, of watching Rahul score centuries, 2 Saturdays in a row, against England last summer. What a technician. How pleasing on the eye. How much more brave and intelligent than his colleagues he seemed, as they all wilted against quality fast bowling with only the odd piece of resistance. Enjoy your rest Sir, we would all have wanted you in our team.

  • Harry on March 9, 2012, 14:59 GMT

    Stayed up late to watch the Jamaica match. Worth every bleary eyed second.

  • Pravin on March 9, 2012, 14:55 GMT

    Just eight bests? We need to dig out more...or it looks he is not worth of the farewell media/BCCI/people are giving.

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