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An unlikely star of the 50-over format

Rahul Dravid wasn't a natural in ODI cricket, yet his numbers stack up favourably against the best in the format

S Rajesh

September 16, 2011

Comments: 79 | Text size: A | A

Rahul Dravid's 92 off 63 balls helped India pile 93 runs in the last 10 overs, England v India, 2nd ODI, Bristol, August 24, 2007
In all World Cup matches, Rahul Dravid averaged 61.42, only marginally behind Viv Richards' 63.31 © Getty Images
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For someone whose playing style was thought to be suited only to Test cricket, finishing eighth on the list of most matches played, and with the seventh-highest number of runs in one-day internationals is no mean achievement. Rahul Dravid never had the attacking ability of a Sachin Tendulkar or a Brian Lara, but it's a testament to his adaptability that he played 343 ODIs, scored 10,820 runs, and struck 12 centuries and 82 fifties, including one off 22 balls, which remains the second-fastest by an Indian (going into his final ODI match, against England in Cardiff). Apart from all that, he kept wicket in 73 ODIs, and yet he never allowed that to adversely affect his batting - in fact, his batting stats improved when he kept wicket. He also led India in 79 matches, and achieved the second-best win-loss record among Indians who captained in at least 50 ODIs. For any cricketer this is a staggering resume; for one considered a Test specialist, it borders on the unbelievable.

However, none of this seemed possible when Dravid started his ODI career with scores of 3, 4, 3, 11 and 13 in his first five completed innings. In the tougher conditions of Toronto in 1996, though, his orthodoxy and tight technique - sometimes a liability in ODIs - were a blessing, as he scored consistently in the five-match Friendship Cup against Pakistan, notching up his first half-century and top-scoring in two matches.

That was followed by a few impressive innings, including his maiden century, against Pakistan, in a match overshadowed by Saeed Anwar's record-breaking 194. However, largely ODIs were still a struggle for Dravid, and perhaps never was it better illustrated than by his 21-ball 1 against Bangladesh in May 1998. Till the end of that year, his ODI record was strictly modest: an average of under 32, at a strike rate of 63, in 65 games.

In his first ODI of 1999, Dravid broke the shackles with an outstanding unbeaten run-a-ball 123 against New Zealand in Taupo, and that kickstarted a sustained run of excellence over the next seven years. It included a fantastic run in the 1999 World Cup - 461 runs at 65.85 - and another run-a-ball century against New Zealand later that year, 153 in Hyderabad, which remains his highest ODI score. The 2003 World Cup was another huge success - 318 runs at 63.60.

Between 1999 and 2005, Dravid averaged almost 43 from 210 matches, scored 10 of his 12 centuries, and won nine out of 14 Man-of-the-Match awards. The period after that hasn't been as successful, but then Dravid has hardly been part of the ODI scene in the last three years, playing only 10 matches since the beginning of 2009. (Click here for Dravid's ODI career summary.)

Rahul Dravid's ODI career
Period ODIs Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Till Dec 1998 65 1709 31.64 63.48 1/ 12
Jan 1999 to Dec 2005 210 7134 42.97 71.97 10/ 53
Jan 2006 onwards 68 1977 34.68 76.00 1/ 17
Career 343 10,820 39.06 71.16 12/ 82

In the seven years from 1999 to 2005, Dravid was among the most successful ODI batsmen in the world, which says a lot about his ability to work on his game and improve. Among batsmen with at least 4000 ODI runs during this period, only three - Damien Martyn, Jacques Kallis and Tendulkar - had a higher average, while Dravid's strike rate of 72 was very acceptable too. Batsmen like Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf and Sourav Ganguly, who were generally rated as far more free-stroking, only had marginally higher scoring rates.

Top ODI batsmen between Jan 1999 and Dec 2005 (Qual: 4000 runs)
Batsman ODIs Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Damien Martyn 163 4411 46.43 78.18 5/ 30
Jacques Kallis 177 6348 45.66 70.69 10/ 48
Sachin Tendulkar 151 6181 45.44 85.07 17/ 28
Rahul Dravid 210 7134 42.97 71.97 10/ 53
Ricky Ponting 179 6443 42.66 80.48 13/ 37
Inzamam-ul-Haq 180 5772 42.13 75.61 5/ 45
Mohammad Yousuf 194 6502 40.89 75.28 10/ 42
Sourav Ganguly 194 7185 40.82 76.00 17/ 41

Of the 343 matches that Dravid played, 160 were in winning causes, and his contribution in those matches was pretty significant: 5729 runs at 50.69, which makes him one of only 11 batsmen to score 5000 or more runs in wins at 50-plus averages.

Through some of that period between 1999 and 2004, apart from scoring tons of runs Dravid also kept wicket. He was competent enough at that job to do it 73 times, including at the 2003 World Cup. In those 73 games Dravid didn't allow his batting to suffer, scoring 2300 runs at more than 44 per dismissal. Among wicketkeepers who've scored more than 2000 runs, only MS Dhoni has a higher average. Dravid's debut as wicketkeeper was especially memorable: in the 1999 World Cup game against Sri Lanka, he smashed 145 off 129 balls and was in a 318-run stand for the second wicket with Ganguly, which at the time was the highest partnership for any wicket in ODIs. In fact, Dravid has been involved in both triple-century partnerships that have been recorded in ODI history: later in 1999, he shared a 331-run stand with Tendulkar against New Zealand, and in the process also notched up his highest score, 153.

Best batting averages of wicketkeepers in ODIs (Qual: 2000 runs)
Player ODIs Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
MS Dhoni 190 6235 49.09 87.50 7/ 40
Rahul Dravid 73 2300 44.23 72.60 4/ 14
Kumar Sangakkara 257 8647 39.84 76.99 9/ 63
Adam Gilchrist 282 9410 35.64 96.94 16/ 53
Andy Flower 186 5845 34.58 73.71 4/ 46
Alec Stewart 138 4017 33.47 70.06 4/ 26

Among all batsmen he played with, Dravid had the most success with Tendulkar and Ganguly, putting together 11 century partnerships and scoring more than 4000 runs with each. That makes him one of only three players - Tendulkar and Ganguly being the others - to score more than 4000 partnership runs with two batsmen.

Dravid's partnerships with these two batsmen were pretty fruitful in World Cups too: he averaged 88 with Ganguly and almost 83 with Tendulkar. In fact, Dravid's overall World Cup record was splendid, even though his World Cup campaign ended in bitter disappointment in 2007. Among batsmen who scored at least 750 World Cup runs, only Viv Richards has a better average.

Best World Cup batting averages (Qual: 750 runs)
Batsman Matches Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Viv Richards 23 1013 63.31 85.05 3/ 5
Rahul Dravid 22 860 61.42 74.97 2/ 6
Sachin Tendulkar 45 2278 56.95 88.98 6/ 15
Herschelle Gibbs 25 1067 56.15 87.38 2/ 8
Sourav Ganguly 21 1006 55.88 77.50 4/ 3
Martin Crowe 21 880 55.00 83.57 1/ 8

Dravid's stint as ODI captain is remembered largely for India's shocking early exit in 2007, but India's overall ODI record under his leadership was extremely healthy. In 79 games they won 42 and lost 33, giving them a win-loss ratio of 1.27. Among captains who've led India at least 50 times in ODIs, only under Dhoni do they have a better ratio.

Indian captains and their ODI records (Qual: 50 matches)
Captain ODIs W/L Ratio Bat ave Strike rate
MS Dhoni 106 59/ 37 1.59 52.92 82.55
Rahul Dravid 79 42/ 33 1.27 42.19 75.42
Mohammad Azharuddin 174 90/ 76 1.18 39.39 78.46
Kapil Dev 74 39/ 33 1.18 30.66 105.74
Sourav Ganguly 146 76/ 65 1.16 38.79 76.32
Sachin Tendulkar 73 23/ 43 0.53 37.75 83.49

The one blot on Dravid's ODI career is his record against the best team of his era: in 39 innings against Australia, he had a highest score of 80, an average of 24.97 and a strike rate of 66.94. Those are disappointing numbers, especially given the number of matches he played against them. Of course, given Australia's awesome bowling attack, plenty of other top ODI batsmen struggled too - Ganguly averaged 23.45, Anwar 23.55, and Sehwag 22.37.

Against all the other teams, though, Dravid's record was top-class, even in a format that was initially thought to be outside his comfort zone.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

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Posted by IrfanRocks on (September 19, 2011, 1:02 GMT)

Idk what everyone else think...but I'll MISS YA RAHUL DRAVID(THE WALL).

Posted by bobagorof on (September 18, 2011, 23:44 GMT)

Dravid may not be the most talented ODI batsman (though he has respectable figures, as demonstrated above) and may not strike at 80+ runs per 100 balls, but he has batted where the team has asked him to and kept wicket despite not being a specialist wicketkeeper. He has had a regular position but moved up and down the order when required - opening, 3, 4, or 5. So while he isn't the most talented ODI batsman, he has adapted his game to the format and had some success, and also taken on whatever role the team asked of him. Sounds like a team man to me!

Posted by Aashish_goyal on (September 18, 2011, 19:54 GMT)

@pruthvihp..so to you playing at different batting positions in SOME matches makes a player 'working for team cause'...funny.In that case Jadeja also played at diff positions.Do you know Dravid played 344 ODIs and India won only 160 out of those which is almost the least percentage among all Indian players of his era..Yuvraj has 158 wins out of 273.

Posted by pruthvihp on (September 18, 2011, 18:44 GMT)

@uglyhunK ... have you watched India ODI matches in the past decade? Dravid did not asked to make him the keeper, it was India's first experimentation period with deep batting line-up and to accommodate that Dravid kept wickets, allowing the team to add an extra batsman. That is not playing for team cause is it? if you work (looks like you don't) assuming extra responsibility for better team result is called 'working for the team cause'. Dravid opened batting, played one down, played in #4, #5, #6 and even #7, when the team demanded. Sachin is a great cricketer, no doubt, but how many times he has changed his position for experiments or to suit situation (he has only played at #2, #4 for the most part). Recently, Dravid was asked to play for England ODIs, and was also asked to play for Champions trophy in SA. He was thrown out of the ODI even after performing good in SA, he does not care .. he comes and plays when he is asked to and does not talk big (or start riots) when dropped

Posted by uglyhunK on (September 18, 2011, 11:07 GMT)

When Dravid fanboys say "he plays for the team", what does that actually mean ??? I would appreciate if the Dravid fan boys give some examples to support their claims. And yeah, at the same time, give some examples as to how other plays don't play for the team. Thnx.

Posted by Aashish_goyal on (September 18, 2011, 7:11 GMT)

@ravichakra, i dont understand your criteria when you said'"Both Sachin and Dhoni only have glamour quotient added which he lacks as he goes about his business of playing for the team cause whatever be the situation and the need of the hour."....actually the stats says that Dravid played 344 matches out of which India won just 160 and had he played according to the situation of match this number shud have been better but he only wasted so many balls and was the reason for losses...Yuvraj has 274 matches out of which India won 158(@ Balasundaram sridhar)

Posted by Aashish_goyal on (September 18, 2011, 6:52 GMT)

@ravichakra, i dont understand your criteria when you said'"Both Sachin and Dhoni only have glamour quotient added which he lacks as he goes about his business of playing for the team cause whatever be the situation and the need of the hour."....actually the stats says that Dravid played 344 matches out of which India won just 160 and had he played according to the situation of match this number shud have been better but he only wasted so many balls and was the reason for losses...Yuvraj has 274 matches out of which India won 158(@ Balasundaram sridhar)

Posted by Aashish_goyal on (September 18, 2011, 5:42 GMT)

@ Balasundaram Sridhar The avg difference of +2 you care for but what about the Strike rate difference of 17 (88 Yuvraj,71 Dravid) and more than 100 ODI wickets sounds to you.

Posted by ravichakra on (September 18, 2011, 3:52 GMT)

@ Parmjot Swatch : He has a faster fifty (22 balls) than even Sachin. I have watched many ODIs where his strike rate has been higher than Sachin or Dhoni for that matter yet he is not considered an ODI player equivalent to Sachin / Dhoni. Both Sachin and Dhoni only have glamour quotient added which he lacks as he goes about his business of playing for the team cause whatever be the situation and the need of the hour.

Posted by ravichakra on (September 18, 2011, 3:48 GMT)

Today I promise that I will give up watching ODI cricket. It was a pity I could not watch him bat in his last ODI. My heart bleeds at the fact that RD will never ever play an ODI for India. May he carry on in style in Tests to allow me to follow that version of the game atleast.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.

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