Sachin Tendulkar has hailed team-mate Rahul Dravid's contribution to the Indian team in the limited-overs format, describing him as "a role model" and "the unsung hero of the Indian team."

Dravid, who announced his retirement from the limited-overs format during the ongoing tour of England will be appearing in his last ODI in the fifth and final game in Cardiff on Friday. Tendulkar, who was ruled out of the ODI series due to injury, praised Dravid's work ethic and his ability to "stay a step ahead of the game".

"When he started playing ODI cricket, he faced some initial difficulties, but he was never one to give up," Tendulkar told the Indian Express. "He worked very hard on his flaws, and he made sure to fight it out."

With a career strike-rate of just over 71, Dravid has often been labelled as being unsuited for shorter formats of the game, something that Tendulkar disagreed with. "He may not give you a quick start, but he will surely make his innings count in terms of time spent at the crease. You need such players in the team, and he was the best man for the job. Others in the team played around him, while Rahul batted as the situation demanded. It wasn't that he couldn't bat quickly; he just made sure that he batted according to the situation.

"Rahul also had that ability to finish a game, and I remember he played the same role at No. 5, or for that matter at any other spot in the batting order. And that was one of the main reasons he sustained his role as an important member in the side."

Former India captain Anil Kumble who was also Dravid's Karnataka state-mate echoed Tendulkar's view.

"He [Dravid] is not someone who will go out and tonk sixes at will but he gets the job done," Kumble wrote in his column in the Hindustan Times. "Rahul's approach has changed in the way he uses the pace of the bowler, looks to take the early singles and keep the board ticking over."

Of the 343 ODIs that Dravid played in, he has kept wickets in 73 of them. He started keeping wickets when Sourav Ganguly was captain, a move that Ganguly said "Indian cricket should be thankful to Rahul for".

"Rahul has had a chequered one-day career and it took a new turn once he decided to keep wicket in 2002," Ganguly wrote in his column in the Hindustan Times. "His decision was absolutely for the team as it helped reorganise the middle-order and add more depth to it."

Both Tendulkar and Kumble said that one of the turning points in Dravid's ODI career was when he started keeping wickets. "He is the perfect team man; when he was asked to keep wickets we all knew that he will do well because he was initially a wicketkeeper. It later helped him, and came as a big help to all of us in the Indian team during the 2003 World Cup. He got better by the day during that campaign, and also managed to score quick runs with the bat," Tendulkar said.

"The best phase of his ODI career was in the four or so years when he was the wicketkeeper, and batted at No. 5," Kumble said. "He established himself as a great finisher, and it was while batting alongside him that the likes of Yuvraj and Kaif truly matured in the lead-up to the 2003 World Cup."