By John Cheeran
After the triumph in 2011 World Cup not many would have taken India’s tour to the West Indies seriously. The Indian squad itself was depleted, without Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.
India, however, did well both in the one-day and Test series. Yes, India did not show enough aggression, especially by not going for the kill during the second innings chase on the final day of the third Test. And skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been flayed by many critics for his pussyfooted approach to the end-game.
Am I disappointed? Yes and No. Yes, because it was an opportunity that we did not reach out for. No, considering the overall outcome of the series. It is, however, important to realize that India still depends on seniors such as Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman to steady its ship in the choppy waters of Test cricket. It was a joy and relief to watch Dravid play another match-winning innings (112) in the second innings of the first Test at Sabina Park, Kingston. But, then, Dravid has given his best with India in a crisis. Statistics would show that he has performed on a higher plane away from home. But Dravid is not your man to bet on a situation that borders on gambling as was in the final Test. The classicist that he is, Dravid reiterated his relevance on a cricketscape awash in young dreams.
But there are other things that Dravid has to remember at this age and stage of his career. This is the time to go. The tour to England is a great opportunity for Dravid to put full stop to his splendid career.
Dravid has had his run, after all. Yes, he is fit, and good enough for another 12 months of Test cricket. I hope he remains hungry for success in fields other than cricket too.
But the memory I have of him during India’s last Test series win in England in 2007 was that of a Dravid struggling at Kennington Oval to ensure that nothing goes amiss during India’s second innings, despite a first innings lead of 319 runs. Dravid, after India lost its first three wickets – Wasim Jaffer, Dinesh Karthik and Sachin Tendulkar – for 11 runs, would have been troubled by the memories of the World Cup disaster, and pottered around for 140 minutes for 12 runs. It was not a pretty sight.
Dravid, at 38, is still capable of producing big knocks. He began his Test career in England, and he is more of an English cricketer than an oriental hero. There cannot be a better place for Rahul Dravid to bid adieu than England. I wish he relives the summer of 1996, and walks off to the pavilion, making India asking for more and why.
At that time, Dravid would not be the highest run-getter or the scorer of maximum number of centuries but none will doubt that he gave all he had to India’s cause at the cricket pitch.
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