Dravid the 'all-in-one' man for India

Written by: Mamatha Maben
Published: Sunday, June 17, 2001, 19:48 [IST]
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Bangalore: Rahul Dravid, ever since his debut, has found himself to be the target ship of many a firing squads and on most occasions for little fault of his. Over the days, there has been intense debate on the issue of the second opener for India and Rahul Dravid, yet again, finds himself in the firing line.

It is time the guy got a break?

During the Australian series he was accused for taking time with his scoring - mind you it was a five-day match, which they thought was upsetting the flow of the batsman at the other end. Ironically, they, now, want him spending time at the top taking the shine off the ball so that the middle order is protected.

For a man who has served India so diligently for a good five years, India still is not able to give him a stable position in the order. Yeah, team's interest comes first but where is the team when he is the butt of ridicule.

When he sacrifices self-interest and attempts to play a sheet anchor's role everybody is up in arms. Now, he is scoring big and that too at a brisk pace (which goes to show that scoring at the lower order when the shine is off is not as difficult as it is higher up when the ball is new) everybody wants him back to playing sheet anchor.

I do agree that he is the best equipped (of the lot) to handle the new ball and also spend a lot of time at the top, which is of immense help to the side and also it is in his best interest. However, my question is why then did you drop him so low down in the order? You, then, did not realise that he was too technically sound a player to be languising at the bottom.

Let us say, he accepts his call of duty and bails India out of tough times with some solid batting at the top. But come easy times (back home), when he continues to play the grinding game, can he be assured that he won't be targeted and pulled down again for so called slow batting.

It is not fair to juggle with your player, a senior one at that, so regularly. He has one bad match and invariably everybody is gunning for him. Prior to the Australian series Dravid had done well for India in the Tests but in spite of it people started pointing fingers at him for a not so good Test match at Mumbai. Very soon he was chopped from his customary slot.

Fine, he took it in his stride and true to his nature, fought back hard. Now, he is doing well at that number and, for no fault of his, is being accused of the problems India is having with the opening pair. Why? Did not anybody know it then that he was being wasted down the order? Instead of dropping him to six they could have asked him to open and played Badani at six for it was evident during that Australian series itself that Ramesh was not equipped to be an opener, let alone abroad even in India he was found wanting. Was there no foresight then?

However, more than foresight, the issue here is, "Is Dravid our permanent solution to the problem of an opener?" I don't think the Indian team is looking at him to be an opener forever. It is a temporary slot that they are offering him, especially on trips abroad.

That is the reason why I feel it is not fair to juggle him up and down the order.

Give him one place and say this is where you will bat and give him a long run at that. Don't throw bricks at him if he fails in one or two matches. He is a team man to the core and I am sure he will play at any slot for his country.

Right now, Dravid's akin to a 'Sacrificial Lamb'! If the openers fail, he is to be the makeshift opener. If the keeper gets hurt he is to fill in. He is the 'all- in-one man' for India.

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