`Dravid a role model'

CORE GROUP: With Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar, who are approaching personal landmarks, and Virender Sehwag back among the runs India seems to be on a good wicket.   | Photo Credit: Photo: S. Subramanium

G. Viswanath

Mumbai: Rahul Dravid is an ideal batsman for budding youngsters to emulate, said India's former cricketers Dilip Vengsarkar and Ravi Shastri. The India captain will be playing his 100th Test match 99th for India. He played one Test for ICC World XI against Australia in Sydney last October.

Little Master Sunil Gavaskar, who was the first Indian to play 100 Tests, said: "It's a tribute to his dedication and fitness that he has been a successful cricketer for so long.

He's borne the brunt of Indian batting in style. In recent times bowlers around the world have said that they value his wicket as a prized one and most difficult to get.

That's a fantastic tribute. If he's scored more runs abroad than at home, it's because batting in Australia, Pakistan and South Africa is a little easy.

Once the new ball is seen through, the bounce is consistent and true in these countries, whereas it's not necessarily the same in New Zealand and England. The same goes with Tendulkar, who will be capped for a record 132 times by India at Mumbai."

Sachin Tendulkar: "Any cricketer who plays 100 Tests is a special person. It's a great achievement, it goes without saying and it's just come on nicely and wonderfully well. In the course of an interview before Rahul had played for India when I was asked to name a few promising players, I had named Rahul.

I had seen him in a few matches and I was very impressed. I believed that he had the talent to go a long way.

Best innings

He's been a student of the game right through his career, very committed and extremely disciplined and that's how he's evolved. That's also the reason he's been able to learn, imbibe things and get all aspects of the game organised and get them quickly register them in his mind. One of his innings I liked the most was his 148 against England at Headingley, Leeds in August 2002. He was involved in a big partnership of 170 with Sanjay Bangar. I played (he got 193) in that Test. One can easily mark a top player; Rahul is one.

Dilip Vengsarkar: "He's extremely focussed and a very passionate man. He's also very modest and humble. He's got a big appetite for runs and this cannot be achieved without stamina, fitness and powers of concentration. For youngsters, Rahul is the ideal role model to emulate.

Kapil Dev: Dravid has played cricket with distinction. He has been fantastic because even when big players like Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly were there in the Indian team he was able to hold his own and make a big presence.

One should not forget that he's received all the awards in the last four years which means that he's been India's best cricketer in the last four or five years.

Ravi Shastri: "Rahul is one of the greatest role models for any young player wanting to play for India. He's an outstanding sportsman. Had it not been for ill-health he would have played 100 Test matches on the trot.

I think with the kind of technique he has and the number of Tests played these days, he has the potential to spring a surprise in the future. What I mean is, Rahul might end up scoring 35 to 40 Test centuries.

New facet

Captaincy has brought about another facet of his character; it's helped him develop another side of his personality and proved that talk of him being laidback is all hogwash. He is very much evolving like Steve Waugh, if he has not already and the example is the way he has led India in the last six months. In the last eight or ten years we saw `nakli' (false) cricket in India. Dravid has changed all that. He has held his head high and played on sheer merit.

Shastri on Sachin Tendulkar's 132nd Test: "At the age of 16 he came with great expectations and he's lived up to those expectations. From day one Sachin has been under the spotlight and hammer. It's a tremendous achievement to be playing his 132nd Test match for India.

Sachin Tendulkar on his 132nd Test (one more than Kapil Dev's 131): "`What can I say, it will be another Test match. It's for the others to talk about me.''