Rajasthan v Delhi, IPL 2013, Jaipur May 7, 2013

Dravid and Rahane serve up an old-fashioned show

The Rajasthan Royals' openers produced their first century stand in the IPL, and they achieved it after tremendous hard work against the new ball

A Twenty20 chase finished with nine wickets in hand and 13 balls to spare. As easy as it gets, says the scoreboard. Don't believe the scoreboard. Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane may have become only the third pair in IPL history to make more than 1000 runs but their first century stand was hard earned against a testing attack on a helpful pitch, with some slices of fortune.

Umesh Yadav, Morne Morkel, Siddarth Kaul. That is some serious pace charging in. There was lots of bounce, some seam and some swing. And for the initial few overs, Dravid and Rahane were really up against it. Unfortunately for Daredevils, their batting had failed for the umpteenth time this season, and Dravid and Rahane were never behind the asking rate.

And the Daredevils fast bowlers never looked far away from a wicket, although it wasn't to come until it was too late. Dravid and Rahane were beaten by pace, by bounce, by movement. The pushed, they mistimed, and they survived, barely. Irrespective of the format, two classical batsmen were trying to make it through the early burst with the new ball from fresh fast bowlers on a track that was doing something.

Forget the asking rate. This was about getting bat to ball first, something with which Dravid, in particular, was struggling at first as Kaul opened the chase with a maiden. Dravid was beaten on the cut, and he was beaten on the prod as Kaul got it to move away and climb. At the other end, Yadav moved it both ways in the late 140s, and the 40-year old opener looked quite late on the ball. Morkel presented a different proposition with his steep bounce from short of a good length. Rahane escaped with a thick inside edge past the stumps.

One thing going for this prolific pairing is its calm, though. There was about one attempt from each batsman to play against their nature, to try to break free when the ball wasn't quite there for the shot. It is fine when you are beaten for pace and bounce trying a cut a wide ball. The shot is clearly on.

This wasn't the case when Rahane tried to loft a drive over the off side against Morkel, as it wasn't when Dravid tried to manufacture a cover drive against Kaul. Rahane survived a dropped chance, Dravid managed to awkwardly slice the ball over point.

There was hardly another attempt at forcing it. No on-the-up fancy drives when not in position for the shot. No blind charges down the pitch. No cuteness. They just put the loose delivery away, in plain old fashion.

As he slowly found his touch, Dravid showed what is your strength at 30 can remain your strength at 40, as he clipped deliveries off the pad for boundaries with minimal effort and maximum timing. Rahane almost never turns to the standard slogging area of cow corner, and once again stuck to what has worked for him in this format. Straight, lofted punches, and carves over extra cover, an area his mentor Dravid targeted as well with inside-out drives.

This was a pitch that could take you by surprise even late into your innings. The ball Dravid got his fifty with kicked and flew at him after hitting a crack in the pitch. He was trying to go midwicket, the ball went to third man.

Shane Watson came in and smashed it around with power but one wonders if a batsman as aggressive as him would have been able to survive that tense early period. Then again, even Dravid and Rahane could have got out to one of the deliveries that beat them. They got past that stage, though, and made sure their labour translated into lots of runs. This wasn't a brutal thrashing. It was gritty, hang-in-there and target-the-bad-ball stuff, and it was absorbing to watch.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Varnendra on May 8, 2013, 17:22 GMT

    RD fans miss the point. People admire beauty, natural talent, raw bravado, swagger, killer skills.....Sure people do respect fighting spirit, dignity, consistency in performance......But it is just respect which is lower than admiration. People admire(not just respect) Tendulkar for many things. He is the first Indian batsman who was able to consistently attack high class international fast bowlers in their own backyard. Kapildev was a hit or miss. Azhar never looked confident against top bowling though he managed to score runs. Gavaskar was a defender.

  • Dummy4 on May 8, 2013, 12:45 GMT

    I rate Dravid above any Indian batsman, including the so called God of cricket, from the point of dedication, grit and application. This applies to his fielding as well. I am all for the RR because of Dravid.

  • Vinod on May 8, 2013, 11:41 GMT

    Rahul Dravid has SURPRISINGLY turned into the batsman he was before his retirement from the international scene. his contributions in the field, both as a batsman and as the captain of Rajasthan Royals are amazing to watch. i thought it was missing during his last 5 ipl seasons. may be, finally thought of rediscovering himself in the shortest version of the game? :-) the intent more or less seems to be proving himself rather than proving others. whatever it is, its great to watch him lead from the front giving nice lessons to the youngsters! as a young player just dreaming about playing for the country what more could you ask!!!!

  • Ankit on May 8, 2013, 10:57 GMT

    1.) Dravid, Masterclass apart and Rahane, coolness with right guidance. Both are doing well since last IPL. They are the most consistent opening pair in ipl and proving so. Nice to see two calm heads going for good runs. I still had RCB match in my mind. Run rate never got above 10. Once it did was 10.15 or so. But best thing no one noticed i think is that both batsmen were taking 1's and 2's very easily which makes it simpler. 2.) I remember just before ipl, Jaipur matches were scheduled to be shifted to Rajkot and Ahm. And today SMS stadium is the best in the country.best pitch, best outfield, big boundaries. Nice. Kudos. 3.) RR is always blessed with cool and inspirational head. 1st Warne and now RD. Its just a co-incidence or what but in all editions, RR was on top in Fair Play awards. That gives an idea what they spirit is generated with in the team. Not once or twice but everytime. So kudo's to management also. RCB kicked Dravid, we accepted with welcomed him with smile & respect

  • Dummy4 on May 8, 2013, 10:46 GMT

    Good article, vividly put the thoughts many had yesterday, don't compare one with the other, they have their own charm to enchant the spectators

  • Sriram on May 8, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    All said and done! sponsors, commentators and journos still parise that one 28 ball 40 MOM performance as one in lifetime innings!! Dravid's class has always been overshadowed by other players hogging limelight!

  • Vijaya on May 8, 2013, 10:02 GMT

    I like Rahul's humbleness, down to earth ,his personal behavior on and off field. World cricket have many class batsman but class in play & behavior is rare. Jack kallis is another guy of same qualities. We can see both these on IPL.

  • yogi on May 8, 2013, 9:44 GMT

    There are some who feel that we, RD fans, are always grieving that our hero has not been given his due. During the Extra Innings (on set max) of the RR/PWI clash, SMG, no lesser person, but Sunil Manohar Gavaskar said on record the same thing, going on to add, that, If RD was given a free hand and a longer run, he would've been the greatest captain India ever produced.from a loyal Dravid fan

  • Dummy4 on May 8, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    Well crafted article...Gr8 to see Dravid building partnerships in T20 too..Thanks Abhishek for nice article.

  • Rajkumar on May 8, 2013, 8:21 GMT

    just saw a featured comment comparing Dravid and Dhoni.sorry but that is definitely not true.Dhoni was and is a poor batsman outisde Asia.He is an ODI matchwinner anywhere(somewhat in Jayasurya mould who was a revolutionary when it came to ODIs but had limitations as a test batsman).His woeful technique and lack of proper defence get exposed under swinging English,fast Australian and bouncy SA pitches.Dravid was and is a complete batsman.As for Dhoni's grit and character matching Dravid's we can say that once India win the ODI WC down under in 2015 under Dhoni's captaincy.Definitely Dhoni is coool and gritty and a team player but has limitations as a abatsman.(unlike Dravid)Hope the point gets noted.