Dravid dips into fond Eden memories

Bangalorean recalls the epic Test against Aussies

Dravid dips into fond Eden memories

Rahul Dravid is back at the Eden Gardens, where he has played some memorable knocks.

Rahul Dravid has a fantastic relationship with Kolkata as well as the Eden Gardens. Despite the fact that it was he who succeeded Ganguly as Indian captain, Dravid has always been a huge hit with the fans here.

Dravid the Test cricketer and the Eden share a wonderful rapport, cemented by his epic 180 against Australia and his series-turning 376-run partnership with VVS Laxman in March 2001. The tenth anniversary of that Test, when India overturned a 274-run deficit by posting 657 for seven declared and bowling the Aussies out for 212 to complete a fairytale 171-run win, went unnoticed as it fell during India’s triumphant march to the World Cup this year.

 On the eve of his first Test here since December 2007, Dravid threw light on that incredible association with Laxman, and his bond with the Eden.  “This has always been one of my cricketing venues, I have some very good memories of the Eden,” Dravid told Deccan Herald on Saturday evening. “I made my maiden first-class century here; before that, I made a big hundred (151) in an U-19 game for Rest of India against Uttar Pradesh.

Then, apart from that 180, I remember the hundred in each innings against Pakistan.
 “I have enjoyed myself here and there is a sense of history, a feel-good factor at returning to a venue where you have had success. I have not played here for a while, I am looking forward to this game,” he said two days before the second Test against the West Indies.

 Dravid has made 843 runs at the Eden in eight Tests at 64.84, with three centuries and as many fifties, but no knock has been more valuable than the 180 in the second innings against Australia when he was pushed down to number six. “I was a little disappointed to bat at six, but Laxman had batted well in the first innings. I felt it was just three innings where I hadn’t made runs, I had got a lot of runs in the series before but I could understand the thinking behind pushing Laxman up the order. Maybe (coach) John (Wright) felt it was a chance worth taking, and it most certainly paid off.”  Dravid recalled that fateful March 14 of 2001 as clearly as as if it was a week back. “When I went in, I was under a bit of pressure. Laxman was already past 100, but I was a little short of runs. They were operating with the second new ball, and I had to see off a tough, intense spell up front from McGrath and Gillespie.

“Getting past that phase gave me a lot of confidence. After lunch, the feet started moving a lot better, the ball was hitting the middle of the bat. But at no stage did we think of batting out the whole day. It was when Laxman and I went in to tea that we could sense that the Aussies were tired and under a bit of pressure themselves. It was a hot day and the ball was turning, so we felt if we could put some more runs on the board and put them in again, who knows what can happen tomorrow.”

 Atypically, Dravid celebrated reaching three figures by punching the air and pointing in the direction of the commentators’ box. “It was a combination of things that led to that reaction, I know it has got talked about a lot,” he laughed. “More than anything else, it was my own relief because I hadn’t scored runs in three innings, but there was also a lot of pent-up emotion that needed release after a demanding battle. I needed to get runs both for the team and myself, and you could say the reaction was a direct result of having got the job done.”

Not too many are aware that Dravid was unwell before that second Test. “I was a bit under the weather in the lead-up to the Test,” he revealed. “I had been down with fever and had no practice for two days before the game, I just went straight into the Test match. That knock took a lot out of me and at the end of the day I needed drips. It was a tough battle, it drained me physically more than anything else, but it was also particularly satisfying.”

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