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Opener Dravid crucial for India’s game plan
by NT Shiv Kumar
Dec 14, 2007
He has always been the first to put his hands up for the sake of his team, preferring to grit it out the hard way rather than going for the easy glory that the Tendulkars and Gangulys were busy chasing. He took to wicket keeping, risking potential injuries, just to give the batting luxury the team so desperately required during the WC 2003 campaign. He floated thru the middle order just to ensure the young turks like Yuvraj and Kaif had his calming presence for any crisis and more often than not, he would quietly shepherd the chase with minimum fuss to finish it off. He has never been much of a headline news but his contribution to India’s ODI fortunes over the last decade have been no less formidable than that of his illustrious peers who together constitute the ‘Big 3’ of Indian cricket folklore.

Yes, the ‘wall’ has truly been the pivot for India’s batting monuments and his selfless attributes are as laudable as his technique against quality swing and seam. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Indian cricket would be ever obliged if he decides to sign off his career as an opener in Tests – and in supreme style – if Justin Langer could do the transition from number 3 to opening, why not Dravid? He can reinvent himself, break the self-imposed shackles and play with greater freedom than what he has allowed himself with all these years. And in the bargain, dissolve the headache of who to drop for Yuvraj.

He will do the biggest favor to his best friend Anil Kumble by walking alongside Jaffer at MCG on the Boxing Day and doing what he did at Lahore in 2006. India would be best served with Dravid freeing up the number 3 slot for VVS and with the God at number 4 followed by the ‘wannabe’ God (Dada), Yuvraj and Dhoni – the batting riches can be at least flaunted on paper. That’s the only way Yuvraj can be fitted in without axing VVS. India can give itself the best chance going this route rather than gift-wrapping Sehwag or Karthik for Lee’s regulation outswingers first-up.

Now, the big question is – will Dravid agree to open? Going by his reaction to Ramiz Raja’s gawky query on that subject, it’s a tough ask for anyone to convince Dravid. But one hopes Kumble to bowl a ‘straighter one’ to Dravid and get him on board. That’s the key for Kumble not losing the series- something that Kapil Dev managed to do in ‘85-86 with a powerhouse batting line-up but no wicket-taking bowler except Kapil himself.

Over to 4 slips, 2 gullies, lot of chirping by Gilly and some top quality ‘chin’ music from Lee and Tait band – if Dada can rock to that, he sure deserves the number 4 slot and can hope to catch up with the God on the number of centuries!

 
More Views by NT Shiv Kumar
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