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September 16, 2011

Rahul is and will continue to be a role model for all of us:Sachin Tendulkar

Rahul dravid
I really don’t know where to begin when it comes to Rahul. He has had a fabulous career as a one-day player, and has contributed so much to Indian cricket. I have no doubt that he is and will continue to be a role model for all of us. But the thing about Rahul is that in the limited-overs format, I feel he is the unsung hero of the Indian team, despite having such a remarkable career. The amount of runs he has scored shows his contribution to the one-day game, and to the country.
It feels nice to have been part of some of his special moments, and I know that it isn’t easy to reach any of the milestones that Rahul has in his career. I still remember the wonderful partnership we had in Hyderabad against New Zealand, where we both scored centuries, and put on over 300; that was special, and a very good knock. Rahul batted beautifully in that innings, and he also accelerated well during its course, staying ahead of the game.

A great thing about Rahul is that he has always loved to work hard, always trying to stay a step ahead of the game. When he started playing ODI cricket, he faced some initial difficulties, but he was never one to give up. He worked very hard on his flaws, and he made sure to fight it out. In one-day cricket, you will come across batsmen who will give you quick starts, some who will score with blistering pace. With Rahul, though, it’s different.
He may not give you a quick start, but he will surely make his innings count in terms of time spent at the crease. You need such players in the team, and he was the best man for the job. Others in the team played around him, while Rahul batted as the situation demanded. It wasn’t that he couldn’t bat quickly, he just made sure that he batted according to the situation. His Test innings are of course more famous, but I still fondly remember one ODI innings that he played in 2007 at Bristol where he scored a 90 that came off 60-odd balls. It wasn’t a surprise to any of us, and even in the past, he scored a terrific 50 against NZ.
Rahul also had that ability to finish a game, and I remember he played the same role at No.5, or for that matter at any other spot in the batting order. And that was one of the main reasons he sustained his role as an important member in the side. Whenever he got the opportunity, Rahul made sure he was there at the end in his finishing role, and was successful many times.
He is the perfect team man; when he was asked to keep wickets we all knew that he will do well because he was initially a wicketkeeper. It later helped him, and came as a big help to all of us in the Indian team during the 2003 World Cup. He got better by the day during that campaign, and also managed to score quick runs with the bat.
We used to chat extensively about the game, discussing batting at length. In fact, we still do. We discuss how to approach the game. It is very hard for me to single out one particular favourite moment with him, because we have shared so many good ones over so many years. He has opened for the team, batted at number three, batted down the order, and batted wherever required. It truly has been one remarkable journey.
A Quick Look on Rahul Dravid's ODI Journey
Rahul Dravid in ODIs: January 1999 to January 2003 
MatchesInningsNot OutsRunsHighestAverageBalls FacedStrikeRate100s50s

Notice how well the stats correspond to the manner in which one would want the anchor to function. A high average and a strike-rate that - while slower than normal - wasn't slow enough to set the team back. The next few years of his batting were his golden age, with his Test match form hitting a zenith. However, in the great deeds that he accomplished over five days, it is often forgotten that the next few years were also Dravid's best as an ODI batsman. Most Indian batsmen hit great form in the 2003 World Cup, and while Dravid didn't score as many runs in this edition as he had done in 1999, his batting too contributed to India's good run. The off-field turmoil with the Greg Chappell imbroglio later on, didn't impact Dravid on-field, and neither did the captaincy. In fact, until he gave up the captaincy after India's tour of England in 2007, it was easily Dravid's best phase as an ODI batsman. 

Rahul Dravid in ODIs: February 2003 to September 2007 

MatchesInningsNot OutsRunsHighestAverageBalls FacedStrikeRate100s50s

A combination of Dravid's average and strike-rate over these three phases illustrates his evolution as a batsman well. For the purpose of comparison, the product of the batting average and batting strike-rate is taken as a single measure and compared with the existing measure across all matches played in the relevant periods. The difference between Dravid's combination of average and strike-rate and the overall period combination of the average and strike-rate is a very good indicator of how far above or below the average Dravid's performance was. 

RD AveRD St.RateRD CombinationPeriod AveragePeriod St. RatePeriod CombinationPercentage Difference
Debut - Nov '9831.6563.4820.0929.9279.5023.78-15.52%
Jan '99 - Jan '0341.7970.4929.4629.7279.1523.5225.27%
Feb '03 - Sep '0742.6875.7632.3329.8881.7224.4232.38%

 The table clearly shows Dravid's initial struggles in the ODI format, with his overall performance significantly below average. Given that the overall figures include those of the tail-end batsmen who have batted in the period, the minimum that a top-order batsman should have is 20% above the norm. Dravid did that in his second phase, and in his final phase, transformed into a very good limited-overs batsman indeed.

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