India's overseas hero, and much more

Rahul Dravid scored more runs in India's overseas wins than any other batsman, and his contributions go beyond his aggregate and hundreds

S Rajesh

March 9, 2012

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Rahul Dravid lets the ball go, England v India, 4th Test, The Oval, 4th day, August 21, 2011
The ability to leave the ball alone was as important to Rahul Dravid's batting style as any other stroke © Associated Press
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The stat that perhaps best sums up Rahul Dravid is not the runs he made or the hundreds he notched up, but the number of balls he consumed over a Test career that spanned fifteen-and-a-half years. In 286 Test innings, Dravid played 31,258 balls. Given that no other batsman has faced more than 29,000 deliveries, it puts into perspective the amount of hard work and sheer effort that went into scoring those 13,288 runs. There were other batsmen who had more natural talent, and were more elegant, aggressive, and exciting to watch. In terms of dedication to craft and working on achieving perfection, though, Dravid ranks second to none. That dedication fetched him just rewards, ensuring he scored runs in every country he played in, and finished his Test career as the second-highest run-getter, next only to Sachin Tendulkar.

From the time he scored 95 in his first Test innings against England at Lord's, it was clear he was an exceptional batting talent, but even so, not many would have envisaged a career that spanned 164 Test matches and 344 one-day internationals. His maiden Test century, a sparkling 148 against a tough South African attack in Johannesburg, further confirmed his class, and from there it has been a journey of several highs, interspersed with - as every career must have - its share of lows.

For most of his career, consistency was one of Dravid's fortes. For instance, of the first ten series that he played in (excluding one-off Tests), he averaged more than 40 in seven of them. His best phase, though, was the four-year period from the middle of 2002 to 2006, a stunning spell when he scored heavily pretty much everywhere he went: in 16 series during this period, 13 times he averaged more than 49, and nine times over 75. More importantly, he scored those runs in tough batting conditions, and in overseas Tests that led to wins abroad, a phenomenon that till then had been pretty rare in Indian cricket. During this period, his overseas average was an exceptional 77.07.

A slump followed, almost inevitably, from the middle of 2006 to 2008, when he struggled in South Africa, England, Australia and Sri Lanka. There was talk, inevitably again, that Dravid should quit Tests, but in his last three years he came out of that slump pretty well. He was among the runs in New Zealand, West Indies, and - in what must rank as arguably his best series, given the lack of batting support - in England in 2011, when he fought the England pace attack almost singlehandedly, scoring 461 runs at 76.83. His last series was admittedly a huge disappointment, but despite that he averaged more than 52 in his last 33 Tests.

Rahul Dravid's Test career
Period Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s Home ave Away ave
Till Mar 31, 2002 55 4329 50.92 9/ 24 48.91 53.20
Apr 2002 - Jul 2006 49 4720 68.40 14/ 22 55.71 77.07
Aug 2006 - Dec 2008 27 1460 31.06 3/ 7 31.60 30.66
Jan 2009 onwards 33 2779 52.43 10/ 10 75.31 42.54
Career 164 13,288 52.31 36/ 63 51.35 53.03

At home overseas
As mentioned above, perhaps the most significant aspect of Dravid's Test career was that the runs he scored contributed significantly to India's wins, mainly overseas. Overall, Dravid scored 5131 runs in Test wins, next only to Tendulkar's 5594. However, in overseas Test wins, he was often India's main man, even more than Tendulkar. India won 15 Tests abroad during Dravid's career (excluding matches in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe), and in those games he scored 1577 runs at 65.70 - both aggregate and average is higher than Tendulkar's.

Quite fittingly, Dravid was Man of the Match in the last overseas Test win that India achieved during his career - his second-innings 112 and match tally of 152 were largely instrumental in India winning a low-scoring game in Kingston by 63 runs. In all, eight of his 11 Man-of-the-Match awards came in overseas Tests, and five in overseas wins, including unforgettable performances at Headingley (2002), Adelaide (2003), Rawalpindi (2004) and Kingston (2006). Tendulkar won only five out of his 14 Man-of-the-Match awards overseas, and only one in a win (excluding Bangladesh). In fact, no Indian has won as many match awards overseas as Dravid has. (Remember, though, that this award wasn't always around during the days of some of India's earlier players.)

As well as helping India win overseas, Dravid also scored mountains of runs in draws overseas, averaging more than 75 in those matches, with ten centuries in 32 Tests. Two of those hundreds were in the drawn game in Hamilton in 1999, one of two times he scored a century in each innings of a Test. In fact, he is one of only three Indians to achieve this feat - Sunil Gavaskar and Vijay Hazare are the others.

Indian batsmen in overseas* Tests, in wins and draws
Batsman Won Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s Drawn Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Rahul Dravid 15 1577 65.70 4/ 7 32 3083 75.19 10/ 17
Sachin Tendulkar 13 1219 60.95 5/ 3 42 3484 71.10 11/ 18
VVS Laxman 14 1111 52.90 2/ 8 26 1931 58.51 4/ 14
Virender Sehwag 11 965 56.76 3/ 1 15 1386 57.75 4/ 4
Sunil Gavaskar 9 756 50.40 3/ 3 30 2697 64.21 9/ 12
Sourav Ganguly 9 617 51.41 1/ 5 21 1601 59.29 5/ 8
Gundappa Viswanath 6 533 53.30 2/ 3 19 1040 40.00 2/ 8
* Excluding Tests in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe

No. 1 at No. 3
India didn't always have the luxury of solid opening pairs through his career, which made Dravid's presence at No. 3 all the more important. He is the only batsman at the moment to have scored more than 10,000 runs at that position, and he did it at a superb average too, scoring close to 53 runs per dismissal. At No. 3, though, his home record was better - he averaged 54.81 in India, and 51.35 abroad. In overseas Tests excluding Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, his average at No. 3 fell marginally below 50, to 48.75.

Highest run-getters at No. 3 in Tests
Batsman Innings Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Rahul Dravid 219 10,524 52.88 28/ 50
Ricky Ponting 196 9904 56.27 32/ 43
Kumar Sangakkara 158 8702 58.79 27/ 36
Don Bradman 56 5078 103.63 20/ 10
Richie Richardson 107 4711 47.11 14/ 21
Rohan Kanhai 90 4689 52.68 13/ 20
David Boon 111 4412 45.58 13/ 20
Ian Chappell 91 4279 50.94 13/ 22

Dravid's stats at No. 3 sorted by the score at which he came in to bat present some interesting numbers. He averaged only 38 when the first wicket fell with ten runs or fewer on the board, but on the 18 occasions when the first wicket fell at zero, he averaged 51.94, with three centuries and as many fifties. In fact, his highest Test score, 270, came when he came out to bat second ball, after Virender Sehwag had fallen to Shoaib Akhtar off the first ball of the innings in Rawalpindi. He also had plenty of success when he came in to bat fairly early, with the score between 11 and 20. The 148 at Headingley in 2002 came after the first wicket fell for 15, while the 217 that followed in the next Test, at The Oval, was scored after the first wicket fell at 18.

He obviously relished coming in to bat after the openers had given the team a solid start. On the 66 occasions when they added more than 50, Dravid averaged 62.41. Among his key knocks in such situations was the 233 in Adelaide in 2003 - that match-winning effort came after the openers had added 66.

Dravid at No. 3 by point-of-entry scores
Point of entry Innings Runs Average 100s/ 50s
10 or below 66 2322 38.07 4/ 12
11 to 20 45 2482 60.54 7/ 9
21 to 50 42 1913 53.14 4/ 11
51 and above 66 3807 62.41 13/ 18

Staying through partnerships
Dravid's ability to spend long periods at the crease meant bowlers had to invariably work hard to get his wicket. On an average, he played 123 balls per dismissal, which works out to 20.3 overs. Since the year of his debut, the only batsman who has faced 10,000-plus deliveries and has a higher rate of balls per dismissal is Jacques Kallis, who averages 125.55 balls per dismissal. They're the only two batsmen with a balls-per-dismissal figure of more than 120. Further down the table below, Tendulkar and Kumar Sangakkara have similar numbers: both have higher averages than Dravid, but their higher scoring rates also mean they don't play as many deliveries per dismissal.

Highest balls per dismissal in Tests since Jan 1996 (Qual: 10,000 balls faced)
Batsman Innings Not outs Balls faced Average Strike rate Balls per dismissal
Jacques Kallis 253 39 26,867 57.28 45.62 125.55
Rahul Dravid 286 32 31,258 52.31 42.51 123.06
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 221 33 21,365 48.79 42.93 113.64
Thilan Samaraweera
114 20 10,497 53.42 47.84 111.67
Steve Waugh 137 21 12,705 53.06 48.45 109.53
Gary Kirsten 143 14 13,841 47.19 43.98 107.29
Sachin Tendulkar 256 25 23,781 56.22 54.61 102.95
Kumar Sangakkara 179 12 17,191 55.97 54.37 102.94

Dravid's ability to spend long periods at the crease obviously meant his contribution to the team was much more than just the runs he scored. His solidity at the top of the order allowed the other, more extravagant, strokeplayers in the Indian team to express themselves freely, knowing that Dravid would hold his end up for long periods without losing concentration.

The table below shows that when Dravid was at the crease, the team scored 32,039 runs (60 of those runs were in the Test between Australia and the ICC World XI, so 31,979 runs were scored by the Indian team). Given that the entire Indian team scored 89,668 runs, it means 35.6% of the total runs that India made in Tests involving Dravid were scored with him at the crease. The corresponding percentage for Tendulkar is 29.9, and 32.6 for Kallis. Dravid is also the only batsman to be involved in more than 700 partnerships; in fact, no other batsman has even touched 650 so far.

Every time Dravid walked out to bat, he was involved in, on an average, 2.58 partnerships. Among batsmen who've played at least 100 innings, only Shivnarine Chanderpaul has a higher partnerships-per-innings number (2.66). So, while Dravid scored heaps of runs himself, his batting style also meant many more runs were being scored from the other end while he was around, all of which helped the team's cause.

Partnership runs for batsmen with 10,000-plus Test runs
Batsman Partnerships P'ship runs 100/ 50 stands Batsman runs Percentage
Rahul Dravid 738 32,039 88/ 126 13,288 41.47
Sachin Tendulkar 646 30,278 85/ 121 15,470 51.09
Ricky Ponting 496 26,703 85/ 110 13,200 49.43
Jacques Kallis 578 26,107 64/ 119 12,260 46.96
Allan Border 617 24,500 63/ 104 11,174 45.61
S Waugh 590 23,457 64/ 87 10,927 46.58
Brian Lara 508 21,495 62/ 84 11,953 55.61
Sunil Gavaskar 519 21,080 58/ 85 10,122 48.02
Mahela Jayawardene 420 20,635 63/ 78 10,086 48.88

Dravid has also been involved in more century stands than any other batsman: he finishes at 88, with two other current players about whom there has been plenty of retirement talk - Tendulkar and Ponting - on 85 each. Dravid is also the only batsman to have ten or more century stands with four others. And with Tendulkar, Dravid scored more partnership runs and century stands than any other pair, including openers: 6920 runs in 143 partnerships at 50.51, with 20 century stands.

Batsmen involved in most 100-plus stands in Tests
Batsman Century stands Partners with 10+ century stands
Rahul Dravid 88 Tendulkar (20), Laxman (12), Sehwag (10), Ganguly(10)
Ricky Ponting 85 Hayden (16), Langer (14)
Sachin Tendulkar 85 Dravid (20), Ganguly (12)
Jacques Kallis 64 de Villiers (12)
Steve Waugh 64 -
Allan Border 63 -
Mahela Jayawardene 63 Sangakkara (14), Samaraweera (10)
Brian Lara 62 Sarwan (12)
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 60 -
Sunil Gavaskar 58 Chauhan (11), Vengsarkar (10), M Amarnath (10)

Beyond the batsman
And if all those achievements as a batsman are not enough, Dravid was captain of the Indian Test team for 25 Tests, a period during which the team had an 8-6 win-loss record, and won series in West Indies and England. Among Indian captains who led in 20 or more Tests, only MS Dhoni and Sourav Ganguly have a better win-loss ratio.

Indian captains with best win-loss ratio (Qual: 20 Tests)
Captain Tests Win/Loss Draw W/L ratio
MS Dhoni 37 17/ 10 10 1.70
Sourav Ganguly 49 21/ 13 15 1.61
Rahul Dravid 25 8/ 6 11 1.33
Sunil Gavaskar 47 9/ 8 30 1.12
Mohammad Azharuddin 47 14/ 14 19 1.00

And on the field, he snaffled a record 210 catches, mostly in the slips. That was another aspect of the game where his immense powers of concentration stood him in good stead.

There's plenty to like about Rahul Dravid's Test career. The one aspect that's disappointing, though, is his record against Australia and South Africa, arguably the two best bowling sides during his playing period. His poor final series in Australia meant his overall average against them dipped below 40 (38.67), while against South Africa he averaged only 33.83. Thus, in 54 Tests against those two teams, he averaged 36.75 with only four hundreds; in 27 Tests in those two countries, he averaged 36.53, with only two centuries. He never scored another Test hundred in South Africa after that 148 in Johannesburg in 1996-97, while the 233 in Adelaide remained his only Test hundred in Australia. Those, though, are minor blips in a career that largely stayed at an exceptionally high level through more than 15 years.

With inputs from Travis Basevi

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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by BillyCC on (March 12, 2012, 20:00 GMT)

@Emancipator007, an excellent and well thought out analysis of Dravid compared to some other batting greats. The one questionable comment is around your opinion on the luck/intangible factor. It can always go both ways in cricket. And Dravid's stocks rose significantly in the 4-nil loss to England because he stood out above the pack across the series even though India's bowling failed to take the 20 wickets required in each of the 4 tests. In the same series, Tendulkar's stocks declined because his experience warranted a significantly better performance.

Posted by Naikan on (March 12, 2012, 16:40 GMT)

Dear Mr. Rajesh, thanks for this article. It is very rare that any writer puts Dravid in the correct perspective. As most Indian fans are too emotional, a majority of the media panders to their requirement for the flamboyant. Few appreciate the fact that it is Dravid's steadfast and down to earth approach which has served India better than most. In fact one hardly hears talk of his 200+ catches (the second best being far behind). May be Dravid should have taken bigger dives taking those catches or hit more sixes like he did in his only T20 match. Thankfully for India's sake he did not do that or it would have been just a flash in the pan and we would never have seen some of the fabulous victories or saved defeats. While I do believe Sachin has far greater talent, what Dravid teaches us is that talent may be god given but ability is self obtained. Here is an interesting stat: Sachin's test tally from the same date as when Dravid got into Test cricket comes to less than 13000 runs!

Posted by D.Sharma on (March 11, 2012, 4:25 GMT)

Also... Dravid averaged the highest away from home in the 90s for a batsmen. What class.

Posted by praveen4honestremark on (March 11, 2012, 0:39 GMT)

@ Sachin 86...Dravid is not rated based on how talented he is. He is rated for how well he played for the cause of the team. 233 and 72 in both the Innings and won a game for India with Laxman support. Dravid has evolved himself and challenged himself and played ONLY FOR TEAM, NOT FOR RECORDS. Remember mr. Sachin 86.

Posted by praveen4honestremark on (March 11, 2012, 0:30 GMT)

A simple and straight question : " If you say Sachin had bad luck in winning matches for India when India need him to battle there for draw or win., you say it as bad luck when he gets out, then more than 90% he played during second innings when India needed him he failed, his average is 20-22%( below 25) in second Innings, so even for the most ill fated or bad luck person stats would change if he tried to improve himself. Where was Improvement in Sachin's batting?When did he start thinking he is not playing tennis( he likes this game) by moulding himself to stay there and play under pressure 4 team??When has he given his best shot when India needed him whether during ODI's or in Tests??We have to think, ah! and pause would say one match against Bangladesh or Zimbabwe would be answer where he might have played under pressure. And now he is extending career for 100th ton.i mention it bcoz when he goes onto field 100th tom comes infront of mind than team cause. RD is opposite to SRT.

Posted by Wismay on (March 10, 2012, 18:04 GMT)

@Emancipator007 I was talking about batsmen being lucky and unlucky depending on whether they take wickets or not. Which is what you were claiming. It just doesn't make sense. We can also say that the famous knock of VVS 281 at kolkata was due to the sheer inability of Aussie bowlers failing to take wickets! But that knock is right at the top of the all time best knocks list, and almost everyone says it was match winning knock. But according to you he was just lucky that bhajji and others took wickets. This is not logical. It goes either way and it is true for every match and every result. So this should not be a factor while comparing players. As along, such results even out like batsmen getting wrong decisions sometimes in their favor and sometimes against.

Posted by designer.max on (March 10, 2012, 17:51 GMT)

@: RoobasOliyath:- If u saying that he was the best ever during 2002-2006,then i think u need to correct ur records first

Posted by sachin86 on (March 10, 2012, 17:43 GMT)

Dravid was never good in AUS and SA...he has got only one century in each of these countries...also,one should keep in mind that sachin played for more than 2 decades and fared well even in the toughest decade of 90s.Dravid amassed runs against WI,NZ when they have become utterly poor and also when batting became relatively easy post 2001.Every good batsman started to average above 50 in 2000s.Sachin at the end of 90s decade averaged 58 and he was one of the very few who averaged above 50 in 90s.

Posted by harshthakor on (March 10, 2012, 17:36 GMT)

Without doubt Rahul Dravid is amongst the top 6 one down batsmen of all and amongst the top dozen batsmen of all time.In a crisis the best batsman of the modern era,better than Lara or Tendulkar.From 2002-2006 arguably the best batsman in the world.Had he mantained that tempo he may have been rated 2nd to only Bradman.

Posted by RoobasOliyath on (March 10, 2012, 10:04 GMT)

World cricket will never see another Wall as strong and effective as Rahul Dravid. He is certainly one of the best test cricketer of his generation, probably the best ever during 2002-2006 period having played more Series Defining innings than anybody in the world. If cricket is a gentleman's game, RD is the best ambassador for the sport. Great loss for the world of sports, will defenitely miss him in action but he retires as a legend that will live on forever. Respect!

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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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