Saturday, December 29, 2007

Hidden Gems - Rahul Dravid, opening batsman

let's go back to the time when everyone was questioning the need for rahul dravid in the odi side. initially reluctant to take on the dual role of a wicket-keeper batsman, rahul was made to understand that doing so was, perhaps, the only way he could hold his own in the team. with no way out, the additional challenge spurred him on to become a fitter, stronger, more accomplished and much better batsman.

we believe, oftentimes, the lack of options can be a great motivator to scale unthinkable heights.

depending on how you look at it, unfortunately or fortunately, rahul dravid is at a stage in his career where he is now, fairly or unfairly, in some danger of losing his place in the test side.

but why? you might, as a hard-boiled dravid supporter, be compelled to ask.

fact is, yuvraj is not good enough to be an opening batsman. if forced to open the batting to keep his place in the side, yuvraj will, quite swiftly, be sorted out by new ball bowlers around the world and might well end up in a hole similar to the one sehwag finds himself in today. do we want that? especially, when we know that we have in our midst a batsman with just the kind of game and temperament suited to opening the batting? certainly not. exactly!

there's no question that rahul dravid plays the moving ball better than yuvraj. that rahul dravid handles short-pitched deliveries better than yuvraj. and that a more positive rahul dravid will be a very hard man to dismiss with the new ball. (we've already seen proof of that by way of the number of balls it took theis very good australian attack to get past his stubborn defenses in the just concluded test match.)

that apart, rahul dravid is not the kind of batsman who can be called upon to annihilate the old ball the way laxman, sachin, sourav and yuvraj can, lower down the order. the same line-up that failed so spectacularly in melbourne must be given a chance to come good again. a batting order with rahul, jaffer, laxman, sachin, sourav, yuvraj and dhoni makes for a formidable combination of solid defense, silken skills and blistering attack. better than anything else india can offer with a different combination of players. the caveat: rahul must persuade rahul that this re-alignment is good for him and team india.

of course, for all this wishful thinking to fructify, we need to go back in time and do whatever it is that was done to give india the new, improved batsman that the unexploited keeper in rahul dravid helped create. when the only way forward is to take the plunge, a person with all the strokes needed to swim will not sink.

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