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Beyond The Wall... Nation's pride

When Dhanraj Pillay moves, it is like a river in spate. When Rahul Dravid bats, you can go to sleep knowing that nothing, absolutely nothing will get past. Two books by Vedam Jaishankar and K. Arunugam say as much and more, reveals ANUJ KUMAR.

Rahul Dravid with his wife, Vijeeta

THE WALL remains non-scaled. A thumping drive through the covers and 14 hours of fruitful vigil on a crumbling Adelaide surface underscored what coach John Wright once said: "When Rahul does well, India do well. Tendulkar is Tendulkar but in all conditions Rahul Dravid is the man." This and much more comes with the punch of a seasoned sports writer in the biography of the man who rose from the ashes of criticism to become the unassuming face of Team India.

Vedam Jaishankar not only chronicles Rahul Sharad Dravid's methodical rise from the ranks but also the 30-year-old's passion to be flawless and good communicator off the field as well.

The scheduling of his honeymoon attests his meticulous approach. He chose to play for a second division county in Scotland, where he was supposed to play just 11 matches spaced over three months making sure he remains in nick when his chosen maiden bowls him over.

Dhanraj Pillay waving an Indian flag

Vedam, who is following Rahul's career since his childhood days brings to light some little known facts like his love for hockey - he played with Olympian Sandeep Somesh during school days. His earnestness to cross limits, winning matches for his school team by bowling off-breaks and volunteering to keep wickets, something he did later as well with distinction in two World Cups.

Decked with striking pictures and statistics, Vedam's work highlights that it is this extraordinary drive and discipline that made Rahul much more than just a promise, as his contemporaries Sujith Somasunder, Fazal Khaleel and Yere Goud turned out to be. With Waugh's final frontier seems to be turning upside down, one hopes Wall will become a cherished bar for youngsters to cross.

IF DRAVID symbolises method, Dhanraj Pillay stands for flamboyance but both epitomise a passion for excellence bordering obsession. Written by chronicler and historian K. Arunugam, "Nation's Pride: Dhanraj Pillay" sketches the man, instrumental in bringing the national game back to the podium.

Coming from a deprived background, the book published by Field Hockey Publications captures the illustrious journey of the most capped player in the world who started from the ordinance factory grounds of Pune, where his unlettered father used to work. A fighter and a team man to the core, he kept fighting back the charges from media and management alike about his attitude perhaps because it doesn't gel with his unprivileged background. Dropped several times, at times atrociously like after he led the country to Asian Games title in 1998, Dhanraj has always let his stick do the talking and the age of 35 is still one of the fastest centre forwards in the world. Gelling well with youngsters like Gagan Ajit Singh, Dhanraj is the main force behind the revival of Indian hockey on the world stage and a golden performance Athens would be an ideal setting for him to bid good bye to the game.

However, black and white pictures and break free text doesn't do justice to a character, who brought the colour back to Indian hockey and has inspired many youngsters to pause and think beyond willow.

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