India take Sabina Park to go up 1-0

India take Sabina Park to go up 1-0

The reaction conveyed the West Indian skipper’s painful realisation of the magnitude of his error. “I couldn’t sleep that night,” Sammy said later, and his worst fears came true when Dravid exploited that let-off emphatically to register his 32nd Test hundred, cornerstone of India’s 63-run win in the first Test against the West Indies.

It was in the fitness of things that Dravid played another archtypally gritty innings at the Sabina Park, a venue he will cherish forever.  In 2006, he made two resolute fifties to guide India to a series win in the Caribbean after a gap of more than three decades.

You can feel the intensity the moment Dravid enters the field, assessing the pitch, field positions, situation of the game, and opposition bowlers. He does all that in his typically understated way – no extravagant rituals, no emotions and no effort to impose himself on the opponents with theatrics. Just measured movements of a champion – a la Roger Federer – who knows what’s to be done on the field.  

Imagine, all this is from a 38-year old man, whose body and mind might have taken a severe beating after long hours of batting over 15 years. But Dravid still loves the vibes of a contest.

“At this stage of your career you play because you love the contest, and to make an important contribution to the team. It’s a satisfactory feeling when you are in the middle of a situation, and make a difference,” explained Dravid, the oldest active Test cricketer.

Didn’t he make a difference to India’s fortunes here? His hundred and a crucial 56-run alliance for the ninth-wicket Amit Mishra provided India the launchpad from where they could push for victory. It doesn’t evoke surprise at all.

Over the years the master batsman has stamped his mark over several of India’s great Test shows abroad – Adelaide, Hamilton, Headingley, Johannesburg, Rawalpindi and Kingston, all belong to Dravid, and without him India wouldn’t have survived those battles.  The country can now celebrate a truly great batsman that is Rahul Dravid.

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