An unlikely star of the 50-over format
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.)
|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|
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.
|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|
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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