Love Him or Hate Him, Dravid Is Effective

Udit MohtaContributor IDecember 19, 2008

As the light darkened and the game surrendered to the inevitable early ending, it could be said many were left unsatisfied. The English bowlers toiled hard for 72 luckless overs, the neutrals neither saw wickets or runs, and some Indians remain dissatisfied that only 179 runs were made.

At a mere 2.48 runs per over, a rate unheard of since the start of India's second best opening pair of Sehwag-Gambhir, many would classify this as a tame and tedious day. For a few others its a joy to behold.

There are fewer things in sports that make me happier then watching a veteran make a comeback and answering his critics. Though Dravid through a single innings cannot hit back to those who have questioned his place in the team, the wall can find satisfaction in the fact that his form did not fail him at a time India may have needed him most.

With Sehwag gone caught behind on a duck, and the magnificent opening pair failing to deliver for once, Dravid needed to consolidate the innings and make sure England did not again gain the upper hand. A knock of 65 of 205 balls may seem slow, but it was certainly what India required. With the reassurance that they should be able to declare at their will and set a large target, India have virtually got one hand on the RBS trophy due to Gambhir and Dravid's calmness.

Dravid's recent turmoil can be spotlighted in numerous wayshe had not achieved a 50 for nine innings, not gone past 11 for 6. He in fact had scored less then half the runs Harbhajan Singh (who bats six down) has in two fewer innings during that time! The dismissals even have been to deliveries that he would defend easily throughout his career.

His focus and concentration has come under intense scrutiny. But luckily for the man, and today for Indian supporters, the one who matter have not let him down, as the squad and the coaches have continued to back the man who has arguably saved and won most matches for India as a batsman single-handedly in the past decade.

Regardless of widespread belief, Dravid is of utmost importance to India. Very few players in the world have the capability to set up a shop at one end and allow others to bat freely. No other player can make bowlers feel tired despite bowling maidens, as his solid defense leaves many frustratred.

He forms the perfect No. 3 behind an explosive pair and before two elegant veterans. Laxman's name has been tossed around for a possible No. 3 berth, however he is probably less adept to play the swinging ball if an opener does get out early, and having Dravid lower, with his slightly slower tempo, may dry up runs for the middle order in some cases.

Many have called for some youth to be injected, and this writer himself approves of this. I have been of the belief that India, even when Ganguly was around, should have a two or three-veteran-per-game policy (three out of Laxman, Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly), where the three best performing veterans stay, and one youngster gets a chance, with the veteran who is left out remaining with the squad.

However with Ganguly gone, and India performing well for a while now, things do not need to be changed, and I agree with Dhoni when he states that the experienced men should keep playing until they can, as nothing keeps fans like me more comfortable then watching a Sachin or a Dravid on the pitch, batting with authority.

Dravid's innings was of substance, of hard gritty work the wall has been known of. He was lucky, but it was time he got some. However it was his persistence to not let maidens rile him or once in a while shouts from the crowd of "hurry up" infuriate him. Dravid showed why he is a legend. He showed that the ageing warrior still has some importance.

The wall repaired today, slowly, and if that wall stays in for a while tomorrow, England might have well hit a dead-end in their messianic quest to win a game in India.