Kingston, June 23: He is often criticised for getting into a defensive rut and letting the attack dictate terms to him. But on Day 3 of the first Test against the West Indies, India's one-down batsman Rahul Dravid showed he is single-handedly capable of blending caution with aggression and in so doing, convert an adverse situation into a positive one.
The chips were undeniably down for India at 91/3 as the Windies took the field on Wednesday. The Indian top order had once again flopped and the burden to deliver had been dumped on the middle range. VVS Laxman who is usually up to the challenge of playing on a bouncy wicket surrendered meekly, as did openers Murli Vijay and Abhinav Mukund. The fact that two of these three batsman were out caught behind shows that they were not at home against the short ball.
Dravid meanwhile, put his soft hands and rolling wrists into maximum use, deftly cutting fours in between point and gully. Earnestly and conscientiously, he met the Windies' challenge head on, holding his own against every angled delivery that the hosts' pace trio of Ravi Rampaul, Fidel Edwards and Darren Sammy could fling at him. Then when he had hit his stride and got his eye-in, he started to play the more aggressive cover-drives, pulls and sweeps.
Indeed, Dravid had reached a degree of cool control in his stroke-making that the rest of India's line-up struggled to find. Wickets kept tumbling, but the Wall stood his ground admirably. He was even deprived of ample support, with Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, M S Dhoni and Amit Mishra all departing for relatively low scores. By the time, Dravid had notched up a century, India had moved onto 222 with the lead at 295.
But the ace bat was still not done with business and kept on forging partnerships with the Indian tail. Ultimately, it was his unshakable poise and relentless defiance that took India over the psychologically-enhancing 252. In heroic style he perished playing an aggressive slog sweep to wily Windies' leg-break Bishoo. In the end, there is no doubting that Dravid has stamped his worth on this encounter and could have very well given his side the impetus to take the match.