Sidharth Monga
Assistant editor, ESPNcricinfo

Dravid's ODI career

The misfit who thrived

Rahul Dravid wasn't made to play ODIs, but he made himself do it

Sidharth Monga

September 16, 2011

Comments: 43 | Text size: A | A

Rahul Dravid cuts, Sri Lanka v India, Compaq Cup, final, Colombo, September 14, 2009
Rahul Dravid worked extremely hard to carve out a successful ODI career © AFP

The enduring feature of Rahul Dravid's ODI cricket is sweat. Those sapping subcontinent evenings. The blue of that shirt considerably darker than the trousers. The neckerchief. Sweat dripping as if from a hose concealed inside the helmet. Younger legs of the likes of Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif pushing him, he keeping pace, at times pushing those younger legs. The visibly lighter bat. Something awkward, something off about him. A man who accidentally entered the wrong stage but improvised to carve himself a significant role.

Dravid had no business playing ODI cricket. He is the seventh-highest ODI run-getter of all time.

Dravid couldn't find gaps and singles. He won two more Man-of-the-Match awards than the man born to bat in ODI middle orders, Michael Bevan, albeit Dravid played for longer.

Dravid was not a natural athlete. He kept wicket in 73 games, scored four centuries in those, and averaged five more in those games than his career tally of 39.

Dravid didn't have the muscle or the heavy bat to clear fields. Only one Indian has scored an ODI fifty faster than him.

Dravid was likely to bring others down with him, eating up balls, hogging strike. He featured in the only two 300-plus partnerships in the history of the game. He is part of three of the seven most prolific combinations for India, and two of the top eight overall.

Dravid's ODI career is a strong back-up to the reasonable argument that people who specialise in Tests will always find it easier to play Twenty20 than vice versa. His career will also remain one of the difficult-to-explain phenomena in cricket. Why did a man so good at avoiding fielders in Tests keep finding them during the sporadic appearances in the first three years of his limited-overs career? Who told him he could adapt his game so much that for a while he became the quintessential middle-order rock around whom explosive batsmen such as Yuvraj could express themselves freely?

As the Numbers Game points out, Dravid reached such levels of acceptability between 1999 and 2005 that he kept up with the strike-rates of Sourav Ganguly and Inzamam-ul-Haq, two of the all-time best ODI batsmen. He was a magazine journalist who also started writing newspaper front-page anchors without ever losing the rigour that the magazine pieces would demand. If anything, he says, the front page added some desired spice to his magazine writing. "It helped free up my Test game, and it has given me lot of satisfaction," Dravid said a day before his last ODI. "I have done a lot of different things for India in one-day cricket. In some ways that versatility, that ability to do different things helped me a lot."

He learned on the job, in the public eye, even as people winced at the dot balls. He learned to stay beside the line of the ball, something that went against the very soul of his batting in Tests. He started opening the front leg up to hit over extra cover, point and midwicket. He tipped and ran. He lapped, he chipped. The back lift went higher. He kept wicket to keep his place. He batted soon after having squatted 300-odd times. He squatted 300-odd times soon after batting, having lost sweat as if from a hose.

It couldn't have come easy. He says he perhaps worked harder in ODIs than in Tests. "There was a lot more learning that I had to do in one-day cricket along the way. I faced some ups and downs, I got dropped in the middle, I had to go back and learn some lessons, I had to improve my game, keep getting better."

A few of Dravid's finest

  • 145 v Sri Lanka, 1999 - Part of a 318-run stand with Sourav Ganguly which was, at the time, the highest for any wicket in ODIs
  • 153 v New Zealand, 1999 - That record stood for less than six months as he and Sachin Tendulkar piled on 331 for the second wicket later in the year
  • 50* v New Zealand, 2003 - In a sign of how far his game had progressed, he slammed the second fastest half-century by an India player
  • 76* v Pakistan, 2004 - In an impossibly hyped series, India seemed headed for a series defeat at 94 for 4 before Dravid levelled it at 2-2 with the help of Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif
  • 105 v West Indies, 2006 - Opening the innings, his century at better than a run-a-ball steers an inexperienced India side to victory in Jamaica

Some Test traits stayed. Of the eight men who have scored more than 10,000 ODI runs, Dravid's efforts have sought the least attention. His first century came in the game that Saeed Anwar scored 194. His two highest ODI scores came in matches that Sachin Tendulkar and Ganguly came close to the then-elusive ODI double-hundred. He even opened the innings 21 times, managing a match-winning century in Jamaica from that position. His captaincy is remembered for the 2007 World Cup debacle, and not for India's success-rate under him, which is second only to MS Dhoni's team.

As captain Dravid presided over most of India's fabled streak of 17 wins batting second. Chasing in matches that he captained, Dravid averaged 41.11. Although his three most conspicuous innings came batting first - the two big hundreds in those triple-century stands and that 22-ball fifty against New Zealand - Dravid's real utility remained in the chase. He was not quite the free-spirited wanderer in ODIs. He liked to take with him the compass, milestones, maps, the GPS.

Dravid may have scored many more runs with Tendulkar and Ganguly, but his 2663 with Yuvraj and 1960 with Kaif would have given him special satisfaction. He kept up with the young, he shepherded them at times. If Yuvraj helped him out by taking away the run-rate pressure, Dravid negotiated the difficult conditions better. If there was a criticism against the new Dravid, it was when setting a target. In a world where 300 was becoming the new 250, he could falter on the side of slowness.

The uninhibited Twenty20 mindset, and the uniform, almost regulated, tracks for ODIs, didn't quite appreciate, or perhaps need, the solidity of Dravid. The time of Dhoni was coming. Dhoni may have started off as the crazy hitter, his real utility was in following Dravid in the evolution of the ODI middle-order batsman. Strictly speaking in terms of ODIs, Dhoni was Dravid who could explode.

Dravid himself was getting on in years. Also, the running between the wickets and the fielding in cricket were headed towards the next level. Dhoni's transformation as an ODI batsman meant India could drop Dravid, and open up a place for an extra hitter, a quicker man between the wickets and in the field.

Does that mean the limited-overs game has changed so much as to render Dravid irrelevant? Now may not be the time to ask the question. If these changes had come six-seven years ago, it would have been fascinating to see Dravid's response. He can surely slog. After all he managed to hit three consecutive sixes on his last limited-overs tour. Surely he wouldn't have minded losing much less sweat?

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by mr82 on (September 17, 2011, 7:13 GMT)

what a cricketer to ever play this game. This is article is so poor...Ple remove this aricle..Never ever write him off even a single world..Ask other legends who has played with him, they will tell you the real story...

Posted by Pathiyal on (September 17, 2011, 6:12 GMT)

"CONGRATS" to RD for his wonderful ODI career. Hope to see more of him in tests.

Posted by Alkais on (September 17, 2011, 4:59 GMT)

Dravid Kept wicket to keep his place in ODI team!!!! kidding me..... This is not the way to treat a player who has given everything for the country.....

Posted by breathecricket on (September 17, 2011, 1:56 GMT)

What an article, Mr. Sidharth!!! Even the title is perfect. It is indeed appreciable that you had recollected Dravid-Yuvraj and Dravid-Kaif partnerships. That was the key to India winning consistently while chasing. Dravid played the role of carrying the team to victories along with these Kaif and Yuvraj regularly from positions we were used to losing from in spite of having great starts in chase. Everyone would recall the shoib-tendulkar contest in the world cup match in England while we chased 270 odd. Every one would recall Sachin's 75 ball 98. But how many times India used to lose to Pakistan from such winnable positions while chasing big scores!! But in that match Dravid was there till the end to see India home making Sachin's great innings meaningful. Dravid is an epitome of character and how well this article reflected that!! Thanks Sidharth.

Posted by PratUSA on (September 17, 2011, 0:53 GMT)

Few remember or ever knew that Dravid first made to the Indian squad for the Hero Cup in 1993, an ODI tournament. I had not seen him play till than but didn't realize that he was more on a test mold than limited overs game. No idea what the selectors were thinking. Dravid never got chance in playing XI in Hero Cup. It took another 3 years before he finally broke into Indian team. Looking back it's probably our great luck that he played at Lord's in a test before his ODI debut. He went on to prove himself in both forms of the game, and how well he did. A fitting farewell innings today from Rahul. Hope to see him in tests for at least couple more years.

Posted by unclelen on (September 16, 2011, 20:55 GMT)

I know this may be heresy to the Indian public but personally,despite statistics,I believe Dravid to be a greater batsman than Tendulkar. Dravid got runs when they were needed in all conditions,regularly.

Posted by dravidgood on (September 16, 2011, 20:28 GMT)

I have always appreciated Monga's thinking. He has discerned and expressed Dravid's essence in a pretty precise manner in ODIs. Rahul Dravid is someone whowould be remembered only after he is long gone. Even today it was he who ensured there was a platform around him so the fall of wickets could be stopped. But no-one would easily see that utility. In the final analysis, he would be just a number inthe scorecard. India's cricket is up forturbulent times in overseas conditions now.

Posted by ohalwai on (September 16, 2011, 20:24 GMT)

Wonderful Article--Echoes my thoughts A fabulous One day Career comes to an end Today. I salute you Rahul Dravid. My Idol- Forever and for Always

Posted by   on (September 16, 2011, 19:17 GMT)

dhoni was never n he couldnt be dravid, dravid was n wil be The Wall, but dhoni could never b one.

Posted by Leggie on (September 16, 2011, 17:01 GMT)

It was an inter-college match in 1989 when I got to see one of the finest innings of Rahul Dravid. St. Josephs College of Commerce (SJCC) were chasing a target of about 220 vs their rivals BMSCE and were faltering badly at 76 for 7. Rahul Dravid from SJCC was still at the crease though, and any thoughts that BMSCE will roll over SJCC was quickly dispersed with Rahul Dravid scoring a wonderful 80+. The runs were scored with no signs of aggression. Boundaries were made with perfect cricketing shots and ones and twos were milked at will. When he was the 9th man out, SJCC was within sight of an improbable victory. BMSCE won that match ultimately, but the thought that would forever remain etched in my memory was the standing ovation that the BMSCE team (& the sparse crowd that had gathered) gave on his way back to pavilion. His gentlemanly character defied his age and he was respected even at that age. Rahul Dravid is surely one of the greats and we're fortunate to have see him in action.

Posted by Y2SJ on (September 16, 2011, 15:39 GMT)

Even thought I am not a great fan of his ODI batting, I dont miss watching his test innings. His levels on concentration and determination are unbeleivable. Even in the recent series in WI and England, he has showed how valuable he is to the team. A great player. May he extend his test career for lot more years.

Posted by Sanjusoft725 on (September 16, 2011, 15:26 GMT)

Best of luck for your future Dravid.What dravid meant to the Indian Team can only be explained by the other four members of the Fab Five. go and ask them what have he done to Indian Cricket. He might not have won you matches single handedly but he definitely have showed how to fight. Every match that India have won, their remained a man in the backstage, waiting for his part, but never complained and he never will.

Posted by Utsav.u on (September 16, 2011, 14:06 GMT)

A great Article for a great man. Thank a lot sid,

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on (September 16, 2011, 13:34 GMT)

The heading of the article is a classic case of misconception and distorted perception. Though, I would like to believe that Sid was trying to mock at people who thought Rahul is a misfit. Dear Mr. Rahul Sharad Dravid aka Rahul Bhai aka Dravid aka The Wall, please don't retire from ODIs. PLEASE......RECONSIDER - a humble request from your admirer, with tearful eyes and a burdened heart....

Posted by psandeep1977 on (September 16, 2011, 13:21 GMT)

I remember a small battle between Dravid & Shoaib Akhtar in the 4th ODI at Lahore with India down 2-1 & having lost 5 wickets.Shohaib bowled a fiery spell & I reckon if there was any other batsman in the crease at that time,he'd have been out & that'd have give Pakistan a chace to beat us.But Dravid defended magnificently ! Shohaib gave up & the last ball from him was such a wasted delivery,an admission of defeat.Dravid had a little smile after that acknowledging the win in the battle.Magnificient ! Great cricketer & a superb team player.India,you will never know how lucky you were to have Sachin,Kumble,Dravid,Laxman & Ganguly who were outstanding cricketers,fantastic team men & had high levels of integrity.We will miss all of them !

Posted by the_silent_observer on (September 16, 2011, 12:56 GMT)

Brilliant article, as much appreciated and enjoyed as RD's performance in the ODIs ! For those, criticizing the title, please understand that it is called 'ironical' and a great ploy to catch the eye-balls !!

Posted by maddy20 on (September 16, 2011, 11:49 GMT)

Any batsman who is technically correct and has the temparment of Dravid will thrive in ANY format. It is definitely too early to call but considering Rahane's FC credentials, strong performance in Eng on Debut, I think he can be our next Dravid!

Posted by Er-.S.R.shankar on (September 16, 2011, 11:49 GMT)

'Misfit'? - If anything it is the header of the article that is misfit. Dravid always let his records speak for himself--Silently without explosive hitting he has amassed timely runs which led to Indian victory In ODI in eighties par score for winning was 200-220 and in nineties 250-270 and now it is 300-320 DRavid gradually adapted to the switch over I do not remember any other great subjected to selective critcism by the media as DRavid was Discerning followers would always recall and cherish1999[when he was the highest run getter of all countries]& 2003 world cup performances, countless late order surge in the company of Yuvaraj 7 adaptability to any role assigned--But for Vengsarkar & some armchair scribes he would have continued his ODI career and amassed atleast 12000 His 10000 odd runs is quite significant as he was not opening the odi innings like Sachin or ganguly who had more overs to play. But still he matched their record All his aachievements are marked by poise&grac

Posted by SagirParkar on (September 16, 2011, 11:43 GMT)

i will admit that the arguments levelled against Dravid through most of his career are valid points.. he is not a natural athlete, he is not naturally gifted as some of his peers, he is not a star, he is not this, he is not that etc etc.. but what he is is DETERMINED ! and it is is his determination that has taken him to such heights of success and acclaim world wide.. it is that very reason why i have always adored him as a person, a cricketer and a sportsman.. it that very reason why he (and Steve Waugh) has been my HERO !

Posted by HarshaVReddy on (September 16, 2011, 10:53 GMT)

In tears. RAHUL did a lot to ODI. He is unsung HERO. But still he says he got a lot credit than expected in one days. Such humble and respectable person. Love u Wall. Wish u would play tests as long as u fit.

Posted by CricFreax on (September 16, 2011, 10:53 GMT)

i havent seen much for his games, but from the ones i have seen I can say that he os one of the most stylish batsmen. I am sure we would miss him in ODi but he will be better in Test and deliver it for us

Posted by CSK-FAN on (September 16, 2011, 10:35 GMT)

RAHUL - THE VICTIM OF MEDIA. He was never considered for spotlight by media the so called analyst never bothered ...only when India fails Rahul will be considered as role model. shame on you guys!

Posted by Kothandaram on (September 16, 2011, 10:26 GMT)

brilliant article by Monga. a real tribute to a wonderful batsman, who hasn't the credit he deserves. he has been part of the indian team that endured a golden era. the likes of Tendulkar and Sehwag and MS Dhoni may get a lot of credit, sometimes more than what they deserve, but it is Dravid, who has been an admirable servant of Indian cricket. a team man to the core, he has battled splendidly, most often in tough conditions...

Posted by ilayaraja.j on (September 16, 2011, 10:22 GMT)

@Sidharth Monga .....He is not kept wicket for keep his place.He kept wicket for the benefit of the team to have an extra batsman.

Posted by RogerC on (September 16, 2011, 10:19 GMT)

Dravid is an all-time great. He would have got more attention had he played in another era. The media and public were absorbed by Sachin during Dravid's time. Having said that David is also fortunate that Sachin relieved him from all the media and public pressure.

Posted by GRAMMY_SACHIN on (September 16, 2011, 10:18 GMT)

His versatility and adaptabilitiy is the main reason for his transformation as a Great ODI Player. He is already a Legend in Test Cricket. The main difference between Dravid & VVS was this flexibility / adaptability. Otherwise, VVS would have also probably had a better ODI career that what he had right now.

We salute you Dravid and keep entertaining us in test Cricket at least for 3 more years. All the very best & Good Luck

Posted by abhi20690 on (September 16, 2011, 10:15 GMT)

Rahul is and will remain one of the legends of the game.He is a true fighter who time and again overcame criticisms and taunts to excel in all formats of the game. Hats off to you RD and hope to see playing test matches for 1-2 years more

Posted by GRAMMY_SACHIN on (September 16, 2011, 10:12 GMT)

What a Player and richly deserves the Farewell. I wish him all the very best for his future, and thank him for all the joy he brought to all of us through his wonderful cricket. I still remember how he struggled in the initial years in ODI's and later became one of the all time great in ODI (In test he is already a Legend). This is an ample proof to everyone that if you are good at Test Cricket, then you can adapt to any forms of the game and not vice versa as Raina & Kohli & others are finding out. My request to BCCI & all active & future cricket players, to develop your skills for the TEST matches, and the rest will automatically follow with adaptation / fine tuning. CHAK DE JAMMY WALL

Posted by rchandar1 on (September 16, 2011, 9:39 GMT)

You, Sir, have been such an inspiration. We cannot draw a comparison between you and the young(er) blood, for it will be unfair to you and to them. But it is inevitable that you are the supreme advocate of getting the basic things right in a game that is so complex when it comes to technique and fitness. You have, time and again, proven what hard work translates into. Let that be a lesson to all thos around you. We watched you at Lord's on your debut, then saw you come in the ODI team. I am ashamed to say, I was one of the many who said you were too slow, but then we witnessed the transformation. It has been a pleasure watching you since Sharjah visit of '98. We have enjoyed every moment that you fought for us and enjoyed your cricket with you. Thank you for all those moments. We feel proud that India has a Great Wall too.

Posted by mesh123 on (September 16, 2011, 9:33 GMT)

couple of things i want to point out . india were on the 17 wins unbeaten streak (with his young guns) when dravid was captain. As soon as couple of games lost with srilank, BCCI called the old ones (ganguly, kumble, n laxman) who haven't played any competitive matches for years. and another every body missing that RD is inaugaral 2004 ICC player of the yaer

Posted by SibaMohanty on (September 16, 2011, 9:16 GMT)

Will always miss the peace that you brought to the crease. Always. Bye, bye, hero.

Posted by bumsonseats on (September 16, 2011, 9:16 GMT)

im sorry i cannot understand how a guy can be a great if he only good at one day cricket. dravid is a great because he a great cricketer. yuvraj is not in the same league, an average test player and a better T20 / 50 0vers cricketer. u under value the great players u have in doing so. dpk

Posted by VettiPayyan on (September 16, 2011, 9:15 GMT)

As expected only 8 comments. This is what RD has overcome in in so many years.. He knows many of this fans admire him inside their minds.. but when they communicate its always abt SRT.

But Dravid marched on. He according me was always a very good one day batsman. Better than a Kirsten or a Kallis (who is one reason for most of SA's choking ) in ODIs.

Infact around 2004-2007 he was scoring as fast as SRT in ODIs. But no one remmebers that. No proper fan support was his bane.

Dravid for me was and will be always a very very good ODI batsman. I think the disastrous WC 2007 proved him to be hated by all in ODIs.

Hope he is willing to play IPL so that I can enjoy seeing him bat.

Posted by viv85 on (September 16, 2011, 8:43 GMT)

It's sad that a player like dravid had to survive the barbs for playing the sport the way it was meant to...

Posted by Bahcsk on (September 16, 2011, 8:35 GMT)

I was so impressed with this man, that I named my son "Rahul".

Posted by Naresh28 on (September 16, 2011, 7:28 GMT)

Dravid was tall, strong and meticulous. This is why he is called the wall. He is a unique in indian cricket. I fear that our new lot of batsman do not have the same stature as Dravid. Given this he was able to cope easily with the English fast bowlers than others. Maybe only Yuvraj comes close but lacks other abilities that Dravid had. Short Indian batsman are given a torrid time with short pitch bowling. Dravid has always been my favorite. Dravid, Sachin, Laxman, Ganguly will always be remembered as the FAB FOUR of India. They were responsilble for India reaching the pinnacle which English fans today dispute. India's main worry in the future is the fast bowling department which needs to addressed by the BCCI.

Posted by PeddaBokka on (September 16, 2011, 7:16 GMT)

every body missing that RD is inaugaral 2004 ICC player of the yaer

Posted by Ashique129 on (September 16, 2011, 6:46 GMT)

A wonderful article to do some level of justice to the "Dravid Impact" on 1-day cricket over the last decade and half! However, the number of comments (or the lack of it) once more shows how unjustly he has always been the guy who never received the spotlight no mater how big an impact he would make on his 1-day games. I cannot think of any other cricketer who evolved and transformed as much as he did, for the sake of the team. Yes India won the cup without him! So what? Wish he played for us in Bangladesh the time he was out from the Indian side! Only in my dreams! What a waste of talent for the last 2-3 years!

Posted by indianzen on (September 16, 2011, 5:55 GMT)

good one Sid... Rahul is one of the legend of Indian Cricket... unfortunately its time for Dravid to keep his concentration only towards Test Cricket...

Posted by pradeepbhat on (September 16, 2011, 5:24 GMT)

superbly written paens.. i guess the person on whom this is written has helped the author to strive for more..

Posted by cooljack_143 on (September 16, 2011, 4:49 GMT)

GO RD GO!!!!!!!!! IPL is still for you.U HAVE MORE TO GO..ITS JUST STARTED..GL

Posted by randikaayya on (September 16, 2011, 4:36 GMT)

What a player, what a tribute.. Greeting and best wishes from a Sri Lankan fan. I hope, I just hope that Sri Lanka team will get the honor of playing against him in his final test match whenever that will be. And be able able to stand in two rows, clapping to welcome the great man to the crease! Hope we'll be able to reciprocate that tribute the Indian team paid Murali at Galle. If anyone, Dravid deserve to go out on a high!

Posted by AdityaUpadhyay on (September 16, 2011, 4:34 GMT)

Dravid is not a naturally gifted cricketer unlike Yuvraj. But he modeled his game to fit to One day cricket . That is difference between greats & lesser mortals. Taking it from the other side, Yuvraj is one of the modern One-Day greats but till now after 11 years of international cricket he has failed to fit himself into Test cricket.

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