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March 12, 2006
Patience and relentless concentration have been the hallmarks of Rahul Dravid's batting ever since he came into international cricket nearly ten years ago, and he summoned all those powers to thwart England's bowlers in the first innings at Mohali. As much as the strokes he played, a feature of his innings was the way he defended and left the deliveries not directed at the stumps.
Of the 208 balls he faced, 128 were met either with a dead defensive bat or allowed to pass through undisturbed to Geraint Jones. And while Stephen Harmison and Andrew Flintoff troubled most of the other Indian batsmen with their disconcerting bounce, against Dravid they came off second best - out of the 57 short balls or bouncers that the fast bowlers bowled, Dravid left alone 25. The lack of runs hardly bothered him - against Harmison he only scored 9 from 49, while Matthew Hoggard conceded 7 from 33 - but his limitless reserves of patience put India on course for a respectable total after the rest of the top order had struggled.
Despite, his long vigil, though, Dravid fell in the 90s, the ninth time he failed to reach his hundred after getting within ten runs of the mark. Only Steve Waugh has missed the mark on more occasions - 10 - while Michael Slater has been dismissed in the 90s nine times.
Meanwhile, Irfan Pathan continued his fine form with the bat. Since Greg Chappell took over, Pathan averages 39.15 in ten Tests. In his 13 previous matches, he averaged 19.64.