Classy Dravid, VVS prove the pundits wrong

 Dravid didn’t have a particularly impressive third season with Royal Challengers Bangalore while Laxman mainly warmed the benches for Deccan Chargers. So, when Rajasthan Royals and Kochi Tuskers Kerala acquired the two classicists for two seasons, many termed the move as an act of charity than a strategic one.

But how wrong were the pundits! Both Dravid and Laxman opened the innings for their respective franchises and made an impression in their own way. It’s not that the two modern day titans needed to prove anything to anyone, but in their minds they might have felt the need to tell the world that they still have enough nous and skills to shine in a frenetic format like Twenty20.

They did proved their point in emphatic style on Saturday. Admittedly, Royals were chasing a sub-140 total against Chargers but on a sluggish pitch and against an attack that consists of Dale Steyn, the best fast bowler in the world at the moment, the Rajasthan outfit needed a bright beginning.

Royals’ skipper Shane Warne, a master tactician, did the right thing giving the job of opening the innings to Dravid. The Bangalorean didn’t disappoint either. He negated the Steyn threat in a way only he can, keeping the run-rate close to the required rate with intelligent cricket. Dravid’s effort also set an excellent platform for a big-hitter like Ross Taylor from where he could launch an out-and-out assault.

But Laxman had a different job to do. He came to open the innings with Brendon McCullum and the Hyderabadi had to ensure that McCullum, the power hitter, would get maximum strike. Laxman rotated the strike in splendid fashion, but he also ensured that loose balls would not go unpunished and his wise move helped Kochi to get off the block with a fizz.

They might have scored a few personal points that day, but their efforts also underscored the fact that even T20 has a place for cricketers in the classical mould. You need players who can scratch and play the support role, players who have the patience of a sage and players who can respond to pressure situations calmly.

Kochi skipper Mahela Jayawardene, another purist, agreed to the point. “In any form of cricket, you need players who can stick around. Also, there’s a place for all types of cricketers – hitters and players who can pace the innings cleverly. It all depends on the match situation and yes, depending on that there’s a role for every cricketer irrespective of the format. Adaptation is the key to success in this format,” Jayawardene said.

AB de Villiers showed that. The South African loves to clear the boundary on a regular basis but the presence of a clutch of inexperienced youngsters forced him to curb his innate aggressive instincts for more sedate ways en route to a match-winning unbeaten 54. In fact, his first 30 runs came off 29 balls and he opened up only when the victory was well within his sight.

“I needed to be there till the end as the youngsters might have found it tough to tackle a pressure situation straightway. I wanted to be a calming force for them as you need to read the situation even in T20,” de Villiers said.

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