Rahul Dravid will be bringing down the curtain on his one-day international career at Cardiff later today when India plays England in the last of the five-match series.
India are yet to defeat England on the tour, and Dravid will be looking to bow out on a high with a brilliant performance of his own as well as a win for India. In his 343 ODIs to date, Dravid has scored 10820 runs, including 12 centuries and 82 half-centuries with a highest score of 153 at an average of 39.06 and strike rate of 71.16 – more than acceptable numbers for a batsman who was considered too slow to play ODIs.
Dravid has played many an important knock for India, and these are a few of his best innings (in no particular order):
145 (129 balls) vs Sri Lanka at Taunton on May 26, 1999: Dravid’s career-best score is the run-a-ball 153 that he made against New Zealand at Hyderabad on November 8, 1999; during the course of which he also shared a 331-run partnership for the second wicket with Sachin Tendulkar (186*) as India coasted to a 174-run win.
But, the 145 that he made against Sri Lanka in a Group A match during the 1999 World Cup was a better knock because of the manner in which he kept up the tempo during this particular innings. Dravid was harsh on the pace bowlers as well as the spinners; and his timing was impeccable as was his running in what is easily one of his best ODI knocks in which he outscored Sourav Ganguly for quite some time too. Dravid hit 17 boundaries and a six as he and Ganguly (183) added 318 runs for the second wicket to set up a thumping 157-run win.
107 (116 balls) vs Pakistan at Chennai on May 21, 1997: It took Dravid 35 matches to score his first ODI century, but it came in a losing cause as India lost to Pakistan by 35 runs. This was the match in which Saeed Anwar scored a then-record ODI score of 194 in 146 balls as Pakistan put up an imposing total of 327 for 5.
Dravid came into bat early in India’s run chase after Tendulkar’s dismissal and tried to anchor his team’s innings, but didn’t receive much support from the other batsmen except Vinod Kambli (65) with who he shared a 134-run partnership for the third wicket. This was a futile effort as India was always behind the required rate, but this was a watershed innings for Dravid as it gave him the confidence he could be a genuine one-day batsman as well.
123* (123 balls) vs New Zealand at Taupo on January 9, 1999: A typical Dravid innings where he came into bat in the third fall after the fall of an early wicket (in this case Tendulkar) and anchored India’s innings with his usual aplomb and composure. Dravid first consolidated the innings with a 113-run partnership with Sourav Ganguly (60), and then held his end up while keeping the scoreboard ticking over even as Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja fell in quick succession.
Dravid received some support from Robin Singh and Hrishikesh Kanitkar towards the end of India’s innings, but his knock which contained only 10 boundaries and a six was a perfect example of pacing a ODI innings. India scored 257-5, but rain delays meant New Zealand’s adjusted target according to the Duckworth-Lewis method was 200 from 39 overs; and the hosts overhauled the total with five wickets and an over to spare.
109* (124 balls) vs West Indies at Ahmedabad on November 15, 2002: Chris Gayle’s belligerent 127-ball 140 (12 boundaries and 5 sixes) and his 148-run partnership for the third wicket with Ramnaresh Sarwan (99*) helped West Indies post an imposing 324 for 4 on the board.
India’s run chase was off to the worst possible start with Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly being dismissed inside the first six overs with only 45 runs on the board. But, the trusted pair of VVS Laxman (66) and Dravid got the chase back on track with a 103-run partnership for the third wicket in 19.4 overs but India then slipped to 231 for 5 in 37.3 overs before ‘The Wall’ and Sanjay Bangar (57* in 41 balls) took India home with five wickets and 14 balls to spare! Dravid hit only eight boundaries in this knock but ran incredibly well between the wickets as he kept piercing the gaps in the field and keeping the run rate in check while also encouraging his junior partners.
50* (22 balls) vs New Zealand at Hyderabad on November 15, 2003: The Black Caps were once again at the receiving end of a Dravid special – though it was more belligerent than most of his innings. Virender Sehwag (130) and Sachin Tendulkar (102) added 182 runs in 30.1 overs for the first wicket, and by the time Dravid came into bat at No. 5, the score was already an imposing 283 for 3 in 43.4 overs.
Dravid then went on to play one of his most attacking innings as he decimated the already deflated Kiwi attack and hit five boundaries and three sixes as he scored the second fastest ODI half-century scored by an Indian batsman. The target of 354 was always going to be beyond New Zealand’s reach and so it proved as they were bundled out for 208 in 47 overs.
84 (94 balls) vs South Africa at Durban on February 13, 1997: Half-centuries from Daryl Cullinan and Gary Kirsten helped South Africa score 278 for 8; but rain between innings saw India’s target being reset to 251 from 40 overs.
Sourav Ganguly was dismissed cheaply, but Dravid shared important partnerships with captain Sachin Tendulkar and Mohammad Azharuddin to give India some hope of overhauling the target but that wasn’t to be as India lost their last five wickets for 24 runs to be bowled out for 234 in 39.2 overs. Dravid once again held the innings together even as he hit a huge six off Allan Donald after which the South African pace legend directed a few choice words towards him. Donald did apologise later, but Dravid reportedly refused to accept it. This also brought to fore the combative nature and never-back-down part of Dravid’s batting and personality in only his second season of international cricket.
92* (63 balls) vs England at Bristol on August 24, 2007: The Indian innings was set for the onslaught when Dravid came into bat at No. 4 after Sachin Tendulkar (99) was dismissed with the score at 180 for 2 after 31.3 overs. Dravid and Yuvraj Singh (49) added 63 runs for the third wicket, but after the southpaw was dismissed in the 41st over, it was the Dravid show as the stylish right-hander in an unexpected show of power over substance smacked the England bowlers all over the ground as India scored 329 for 7 in the allotted 50 overs. Dravid’s onslaught was the difference between the two sides as despite contributions from most of their batsmen, England fell nine runs short.
105 (102 balls) vs West Indies at Kingston on May 18, 2006: Chris Gayle smacked the Indian bowlers around the park as he hit 18 boundaries and two sixes in his 130-ball 123 as West Indies scored 251 for 6 in 45 overs.
And, not surprisingly, this was yet again one of those matches in which Dravid, who was then the captain not only opened the Indian innings but also anchored the run chase after India had slipped to 86 for 3 in 17.4 overs after the dismissals of Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan and Yuvraj Singh (the trio had scored only 35 runs between themselves). Dravid then found an able ally in Mohammad Kaif (66* off 91 balls) as the pair got India’s run chase back on track before the ‘The Wall’ was dismissed in the 39th over, but the tourists got over the line with only one ball to spare.
85 (121 balls) vs Zimbabwe at Sharjah on October 22, 2000: This has to be one of the best ODI innings in terms of holding the team’s innings together by taking minimum risks and stepping on the accelerator after a slow start. Dravid, who opened the innings, lost partners at regular intervals, but held his nerve and composure to keep the scoreboard ticking over and take India to a more than competitive 265 for 8. Zimbabwe fell short of the target by 13 runs despite half-centuries from Stuart Carlisle and Andy Flower.
77 (87 balls) vs West Indies at Toronto on September 14, 1999: Dravid batted at No. 5 in this match, but came into bat with India in some strife at 61 for 3 in the 20th over. He shared match-changing stands with Jacob Martin and Vinod Kambli, but it was yet again Dravid’s technique, composure and presence in the middle that helped India score 225 for 7. West Indies lost wickets at regular intervals in their run chase and despite Ricardo Powell’s 73-ball 76, they were bundled out for 137 with Nikhil Chopra taking 5-21.
76* (92 balls) vs Pakistan at Lahore on March 21, 2004: Inzamam-ul-Haq’s 121-ball 123 helped Pakistan score 293 for 9 in their allotted 50 overs. India got off to a good start in their run chase but also lost three wickets inside the first 10 overs before slipping to 162 for 5 in 23.4 overs when Mohammad Kaif joined Dravid in the middle, with what looked like a lost cause.
But, Dravid and Kaif (71*) shared an unbroken 132-run partnership for the sixth wicket as India eased home with five overs to spare. Dravid was his usual assured self in the middle as he kept scoring with ease and his presence in the middle would also have rubbed off on Kaif, who played one of his better knocks in international cricket.