Rahul Dravid - Have bat, will travel!

Written by: Sunil Vasudeva
Published: Thursday, December 23, 2004, 15:30 [IST]
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Three cheers to Rahul Dravid for becoming the fourth batsman in Test Cricket to score centuries against all Test playing countries. For the record, Gary Kirsten got there first, Steve Waugh second, and Sachin Tendulkar third.

What makes Rahul's achievement all the more remarkable is that he is one of the best travelling batsmen in the world. 12 of his 18 hundreds (two - thirds majority of the total) have come abroad. In this respect, he leads the three who precede him. Way to go Rahul!

Congratulations to Sachin Tendulkar for equalling Sunil Gavaskar's record of 34 Test centuries.

Many who looked forward to him surpassing the record in the second test are put on hold. But then had he failed altogether, people would have been called for his head!

Let the man enjoy his cricket and with the ODIs coming up, we may yet see him in his elements again.

The one I feel for is Virender Sehwag, the one batsman who always came out of many a bad series for India with his batting reputation (being the only one) intact just could not get going this time.

He might make up for it during the next test series. His opening partner, Gautam Gambhir though has cemented his place by scoring his first century. Hopefully, no more shuffling of the opening pair from now on?

Irfan Pathan too made hay while the sun shined and rightfully deserved them 'Man of the Series' award. Anil Kumble kept adding to his tally. Harbhajan who was expected to reach 200 wickets in the two match series finds himself being under the microscope for the doosra.

Hopefully that will be resolved. We need to thank Irfan Pathan for his efforts as well as supplying the "kick in the rear" for a lazy (as Bruce Reid called him) Zaheer Khan. Had Balaji not been on the injury list for so long, Zaheer could have been warming the bench. Zaheer should consider himself very fortunate.

With two left handed frontline pace bowlers and Wasim Akram taking a lot of interest in them, could he perhaps be a good bowling coach for them? How many quality left arm pacers has India produced in the past who can guide Zaheer and Irfan to continued improvement? And please, none of this "Why should we hire a Pakistani?" hogwash. If Wasim is what these lads need, then just do it.

Speaking of pace, Glenn McGrath has proved for the umpteenth time that scorching pace is not necessarily a trump card. His demolition of the Pakistanis at Perth showed that if a bowler can place the ball in the right areas consistently, the wickets will come. Way to go Glenn!

At the WACA he was the least speedy of the speedsters, yet reaped the richest harvest with his unrelenting accuracy. The Perth wicket with its hoppy bounce has left Mr. Woolmer "hopping mad" for answers!

The Indian cricket fans should keep this Bangladesh win in its proper perspective. Don't elevate the Indian players to 'demi-god' status again only to pull them down later. Keep them at ground level so that if the next series is lost, no one gets bitterly angry.

Looking in retrospect, with the haphazard preparation the Indians did for the Aussies recent visit, a 2 - 1 series result was not all that bad. Also consider the Chennai test which could have levelled the series had the drizzle not come. If that is how the Indians perform with minimal preparation, imagine what a handful they'd be if they prepared way ahead in advance and in real earnest! It is a point worth pondering over.

Inspite of this series win, India may have to be content with the third spot in the ICC Test cricket rankings because the British seem to have quite a good hold on their away series against the Proteas. But then, stranger things have happened in Test cricket.

Here's wishing Matthew Hayden a speedy return to form. He along with Justin Langer undoubtedly form the best opening pair in Test cricket today.

The Aussies won't be shuffling that combination just because of Hayden's temporary lack of form. Even if one these guys fails, the rest of the batting order (which in my book is the numero uno batting lineup hands down) makes up the difference. True champions indeed!

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