His unruffled countenance has won him countless admirers all over the cricket world. Rarely has Rahul Dravid dropped his guard in cricketing demeanour. In the roughest of moments on the field, he has maintained his Buddha-like posture, casting a cover of calmness over agitating competitors.
Dravid belonged to an era that epitomised classic cricket, correct batsmanship, respect for the opponents, lending dignity to the game.
His presence in a tournament like the Indian Premier League (IPL) may appear out of place. Not quite. Dravid is as relevant to this format as he was to the grand arena of Test cricket.
If Rajasthan Royals figures in the group of prospective qualifiers, much credit goes to Dravid and his leadership. Not the best proponent of T20 cricket but not the one to run down the fast and furious format, he has led the team with a flourish, getting the combination right and ensuring the campaign stays on course.
Dravid has made runs and guided the rest. Rajasthan Royals, without a star line-up, has given a decent account so far.
In comparison, Pune Warriors, struggling to indentify a leader for the team, lost the plot right through, plummeting to the bottom with unerring consistency. Batting has been a let-down and bowling has depended a lot on Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a fast improving seamer with a heart to take punishment.
Ashoke Dinda’s wickets have come at a high price. Leg-spinner Rahul Sharma has lacked the command to swing a contest and constant change in captaincy has hardly helped the team.
Rajasthan Royals can look to dominate Sunday’s clash with Pune Warriors in environments that have been encouraging in this edition.
It has not lost an encounter at the SMS stadium here. The pitch, by Taposh Chatterjee, one of the best curators in the country, has played true and contributed to producing entertaining cricket. Dravid acknowledges the curator’s role, just as Mahendra Singh Dhoni would for the conditions in Chennai.
With Shane Watson, Brad Hodge and Ajinkya Rahane looking good and Dravid keen to make an impact in what seems his farewell IPL commitment, Rajasthan Royals can be expected to extend their winning show at home. Pune Warriors can only look to play the spoilsport.
Both the camps have a batsman each smarting under omission from the Indian team for the Champions Trophy.
Would Rahane and Yuvraj Singh have the motivation to give their best? They can draw inspiration from Dravid, ever the committed cricketer.