DateLine: 17th April 2009
Rahul Dravid is the best No. 3 batsman to play for India - and might even be considered one of the best ever by the time his career is done. He already averages around 60 at that position, more than any regular No. 3 batsman in the game's history, barring Don Bradman. Unusually for an Indian batsman, he also averages more overseas - around 60, again - than at home. But impressive as his statistics are, they cannot represent the extent of his importance to India, or the beauty of his batsmanship.
When Dravid began playing Test cricket, he was quickly stereotyped as a technically correct player capable of stonewalling against the best attacks - his early nickname was 'The Wall' - but of little else. As the years went by Dravid grew in stature, finally reaching full blossom under Sourav Ganguly's captaincy. As a New India emerged, so did a new Dravid: first, he put on the wicketkeeping gloves in one-dayers, and transformed himself into an astute finisher in the middle-order; then, he strung together a series of awe-inspiring performances in Test matches, as India crept closer and closer to their quest of an overseas series win.
Dravid became India's most valuable player, saving them Tests at Port Elizabeth, Georgetown and Trent Bridge, winning them Tests at Headlingley, Adelaide, Kandy and Rawalpindi. At one point during this run, he carved up four centuries in successive innings, and hit four double-centuries in the space of 15 Tests, including in historic away-wins at Adelaide and Rawalpindi. In October 2005, he was appointed captain the one-day side, began with a thumping 6-1 hammering of Sri Lanka in a home series, and was soon given responsibility of the Test side as well, taking over from Ganguly. While his captaincy stint started encouragingly with ODI victories against Pakistan and England, it soon nosedived with an embarrassing defeat against Bangladesh which led to an early exit from the 2007 World Cup. As a Test team India won their first Test in South Africa and achieving two historic away series wins in the West Indies and England.
Dravid stepped down from the captaincy after the 2007 England tour. A poor run in a one-day series at home against Australia saw Dravid dropped from the subsequent series against Pakistan but he is a regular fixture in Test scene.