London: He fell five-run shy of a century in his very first Test some 11 years ago but Team India captain Rahul Dravid still cherishes every moment of his debut match at cricket’s traditional and spiritual home, the Lord’s.

Dravid was batting on 95 when he edged one to the wicketkeeper and walked in the 1996 Test to see Sourav Ganguly outshine him with a debut century.

On Thursday, Dravid leads the Indian team in the first Test against England and the stylish right-hander said he had no regrets even though he fell tantalisingly short of becoming the fourth cricketer to score a century on debut at Lord’s.

“I couldn’t have scripted it better. Just playing for India would have been special, to be honest with you — whether it had been in Chittagong or at Lord’s. But for it to have happened at Lord’s — really the home of cricket,” Dravid told Cricinfo website.

Awe-striking history

In awe of the venue and its rich history, Dravid said “To have known that so many great cricketers had played at that ground — the tradition, history... They really have maintained the culture and traditions in the ground.

“And whatever people may say, you do feel it. There’s something about walking down those steps at Lord’s. I do feel it definitely. So for me it was special to have played at Lord’s and to have actually done well there. Every time I’ve gone there, I’ve always felt nice in some ways.”

Dravid said playing in England was a dream which, like every aspiring cricketer, he cherished at the bottom of his heart and touring the country was realising that dream.

“A summer tour to England is something you always grew up hearing about even before you actually got a chance to play at grounds like Lord’s, The Oval, Trent Bridge, Headingley,” Dravid said.

“You’ve heard these names on commentary, you’ve heard about Indian teams that have gone there, and people who have performed in those places.”

Happy hunting ground

Dravid has thrived in the English conditions and after the memorable 1996 debut, runs flowed from his bat in the 2002 tour as well. He averages an astounding 87.66 in England and Dravid said he hardly put a foot wrong in that tour.

“I must admit that during the last tour I went through a bit of a purple patch. I think it was the beginning of a very successful run which lasted almost two and a half years.

“I felt my game peaked at that stage, I was playing at the top of my game, playing really well.

“What made me happy was that we all played some good cricket on that trip — to win the Headingley Test after taking a decision to bat first on that wicket... that century was the highlight of the tour. It set the tone for us, allowed us to fight back in the series.

Dravid said the key to his success in England was his relaxed attitude. Besides, travelling was never a worry here, he pointed out. — PTI

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