HomeCricketSweat, toil and determination: Rahul Dravid's century at Eden...

Sweat, toil and determination: Rahul Dravid’s century at Eden Gardens

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March 2001 will not be easily forgotten by Indian cricket fans around the world. Eden Gardens was the place where India scripted its greatest comeback ever in the white flannels. The Australian side had arrived on Indian soil having thwarted every challenge in their way.

The Kangaroos came to the Indian sub-continent having won 16 Test matches in a row, and all that was left for the Aussies to conquer was the ‘Final Frontier'(as Steve Waugh famously labelled the Indian tour).

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Also, in the first Test, India was steam rolled in Mumbai, in spite of a brilliant effort in both the innings by batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, The Aussies thrashed India by 10 wickets. The bandwagon then moved to the ultimate theater for sport, the iconic Eden Gardens stadium.

Any hopes of an Indian comeback in the second Test were quickly doused after the first innings got over. After the Aussies had amassed a total of 445 runs on the board, India was skittled out for a partly score of 171.

VVS Laxman had been the lone bright spark in the first innings, scoring 59. Laxman was granted a promotion in the second innings, and came in at No.3, taking the position of Rahul Dravid.

India started their second innings positively, but then lost three quick wickets .With the scorecard reading 115/3, after the fall of Sachin Tendulkar for just 10, the game was tilting in Australia’s favour. And, after local boy and Indian skipper Ganguly fell with the score reading 232/4. Rahul Dravid joined forces with Laxman in the middle.

We have all celebrated Laxman’s magical knock in that Test match. Paeans have been written about that innings, and even today, people hail it as the greatest knock ever played by an Indian batsman in Test cricket.

But then, the man who gave Laxman the support at the other end has not got the recognition he deserved. Had it not been for the solidity of Dravid at the other end, the fate of that Test match could have been vastly different.

Rahul Dravid displayed qualities that have defined him

Rahul Dravid came to the crease, and displayed the qualities that have defined him throughout his career. He was solid, his concentration was monk like, and he stood there like a warrior, unmovable and impenetrable.

His first boundary was typical Dravid. The ball was pitched short by Warne, Dravid rocked onto the back foot and cut him past cover for a boundary. Dravid’s second boundary would have made the Indians have their hearts in his mouths. Gillespie bowled a delivery on good length that took off, Dravid tried to leave it, the ball took the inside edge, and went into the boundary.

Could this be his day? Was this the stroke of luck that could prove decisive in this Test match?

Dravid’s third boundary proved that it was a master at work. To a ball that was pitched on middle stump, Dravid lunged forward and flicked the ball past mid-wicket for four. The balance was perfect, the timing was pristine, and the ball raced to the boundary.

A partnership was slowly starting to build between the two batsmen,and the Aussies were starting to feel the heat. In their desperation to break the partnership, the Aussies even made Mark Waugh roll his arm over. The off spinner flighted a delivery on middle stump to Dravid, and the batsman flicked him past mid on with ease for a boundary.

Dravid continued to methodically dissect the Australian

Dravid and Laxman were making the Aussies sweat. Not only was Australia unable to dislodge the pair, the batsmen were also scoring comfortably, picking the gaps at regular intervals.

Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman at Eden Gardens during the Test match against Australia in 2001. (Credits: Twitter)
Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman at Eden Gardens during the Test match against Australia in 2001. (Credits: Twitter)

Rahul Dravid brought up his ninth Test hundred with a flick off spin wizard Shane Warne. And, after reaching the three figure mark, the normally calm man pointed his bat to the dressing room.He was probably making a statement to all those who doubted him.

Dravid was pumped up, and so was the dressing room. Even Shane Warne was applauding the masterly knock from the great man.

After reaching the hundred, Dravid continued to methodically dissect the Australian bowling attack. Kasprowicz was cut with aplomb by the master technician, and the ball raced past third man and into the boundary. The lead had swelled to 240 runs by then, and the crowd was on its feet, witnessing the great comeback spearheaded by Dravid and Laxman.

For the whole of the fourth day, India did not lose a single wicket. It was like witnessing a fairy tale on the cricket field for the Indian supporters. The team, which in shaky situation at the beginning of the day, had taken control of the proceedings by the time stumps were called on Day 4.

Rahul Dravid’s 180 acted as the perfect foil

Even though India lost Laxman on the morning of the final day for a dazzling 281, Dravid continued to bisect the gaps and collect runs. However, against the run of play, his innings was cut short due to a terrible mix up.

Zaheer Khan played the cherry to point, Rahul Dravid charged down the pitch, Khan turned his back on him, and Dravid was short of his ground.Perhaps that was the only way he could have been dismissed, considering the form that he had displayed.

As the great man walked back for a defiant 180, the crowd rose as one to applaud a marathon innings from the willow of Dravid.

Yes, we all celebrate the Eden Gardens Test for the sparkling 281 that Laxman conjured with the willow. But then, Rahul Dravid’s 180 acted as the perfect foil for Laxman’s silken touch, and enabled India to script their greatest comeback in Test match history.

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