"I was confident
Classy, sparkling strokeplay,
impeccable in defence, awesome powers of concentrationóthe masters
of the game, Sunil Gavaskar, Richard Hadlee, Ian Chappell et
al, couldnít stop gushing. But, how else could you describe Rahul Dravidís
career-best 190 at Hamilton, a knock that not only saved a Test, but helped
him emerge from a niggling shadow of doubt. A doubt that crept intoóand
threatened to overwhelmóthe 26-year-oldís batting ever since he was
eased out of Indiaís one-day plans. No longer. Dravid has silenced his
critics with a 490-minute gem in the first innings, and followed it up
with an unbeaten 103 in the second to become only the third Indian batsman
after Vijay Hazare and Sunil Gavaskar to hit two centuries in a Test.
Aniruddha Bahal caught up with the stylish Dravid at Taupo, New Zealand,
last Friday on the eve of the first one-dayer, where he talked about his
cricket, Sachin Tendulkar, his high average (54.67).
How satisfying was your
190 at Hamilton followed by a second century?
It was a good knock, not
as satisfying as my first century in South Africa but close enough. The
first one is always much more emotional. In pure batting terms, people
tell me I played much better here than in South Africa. But these are things
that you can never judge yourself in a way. The second innings century
was the easiest I have ever scored. But you have to take whatever runs
you can get. When things are going in your favour itís better to capitalise.
Recently you have been
in and out of the one-day squad. How does it affect you mentally? And you
did bat in Hamilton as if you had a point to prove.
I have never gone out to
prove a point. I have just tried to do my best. I accepted not being
in the one-day side as a challenge. Not being in the side was obviously
not a very comfortable situation to be in. But it didnít shatter me or
anything. I had the confidence, however, that I would return.
But surely it must be
tough mentally. Anybodyís confidence would take a few knocks.
I have done well in one-day
cricket earlier. I have some very good knocks to my credit. Itís just that
when I came back I didnít get any good games and since the focus was on
me I possibly came out the worse. Thatís all that there is to it. These
games can happen to anybody.
Your average in tours
abroad is one of the highest by any Indian batsman. Even higher than Sachinís
and Sunnyís. How do you account for that?
Maybe itís because I enjoy
touring. I relish the special challenge of coming good in alien conditions.
Itís also just the beginning. Itís just these three years that have been
good. I hope I can keep this record going.
How do you prepare yourself
for a game? Whatís your gameplan?
I start doing it from a
couple of net sessions before the game. Basically, you come to know which
bowlers are going to bowl and what I do is try to practise what I am going
to come across. If itís a wicket that will aid seam I will play tight.
The wicket might be one where I might have to cut and pull more.
You have to keep into account the kind of bowling you will face and
the strategies they might have used against you in the past. Like if I
was to play Chris Cairns and Simon Doull I would keep in mind my experience
from the second Test. That this particular bowler tried this initially
and then graduated to that. What I have to go through mentally is what
I can do on that type of wicket against that particular attack and
what I cannot do. I try to simulate a
similar bowling attack in
the nets. I might tell Srinath to bowl me more of a particular line and
Is that all?
What I try to do basically
is enhance my focus and concentration. I have a small diary and stuff in
which I have some motivational quotes that I keep referring to.
How did you react to your
People usually tell you
how to handle success, not failure. Thatís even more important. You have
to treat every innings as a fresh beginning but thatís easier said than
done. If you have scored a zero thereís no law that says that you will
score another immediately after. But the thing is that it cannot be learnt.
It has to be experienced. If it happens 2-3 times you improve in your handling
of the situation. Like, for instance, now I have learnt never to target
numbers while I am batting but just to be conscious of how my concentration
is going and whether I have prepared enough.
The best bowlers you have
I find Srinath the toughest
to play. Also Donald and Wasim. They have all been challenging.
How is it like to bat
He is quite clearly the
best. He is going to go down as the best of this era and of many more.
He may ultimately have the same impact on the game as Bradman. Both he
and Azhar have always been helpful to me. But playing with him you have
always to be careful not to attempt some of the stuff that he does. All
you will end up doing is make a fool of yourself. What I have always consciously
done is tried to maximise my potential in the areas that I think I have
a better chance of succeeding. I
cannot bat like Sachin and
I shouldnít be trying to.
What about sledging?
I havenít faced much of
it to be frank. Whatever little banter that goes on is fine by me. You
could even say I enjoy it. You have got to have a human element to the
game. Good, natural banter is always welcome. But I have learnt not to
react. I mean thatís the best for my game.
Have you given some back,
so to speak?
Yes. Games can be frustrating.
If someone gets into a long partnership it can be irritating.
A year ago you had said
that you would try to convert yourself into a match-winner.
Thatís something I have
always aspired to do.
Would that mean getting
to be more aggressive?
Not necessarily. In certain
situations you have to be (aggressive), not in others. You can change the
course of a match with a catch. You see the joy is more if the team wins
and not when you do well but the team loses.
Why does India fare so
You can only really guess.
The kind of technique you need to succeed in India as a batsman is totally
different from what you need to get runs abroad. In 1997 we went from Kanpur
to play within 10 days at Durban where the wicket was the one of the fastest
I have ever played on. In Kanpur I would be getting my left foot
across without thinking, so the ball didnít squeeze through if it
stayed low. At Durban I had to be on the back foot right away. Obviously,
how quickly you adapt to the situation
determines your success
What kind of bat do you
use? How do you choose it?
Generally, a 2 pound nine
ounces bat. Sometimes, a slightly heavier one in one-dayers. Say a 2 by
11. Most cricketers choose bats by feeling. Itís something you canít
explain to a non-professional. I guess the balance and everything just
feels right. SG is usually very good at making them.
What is your ambition
To be able to play as long
as I can. To be a part of successful Indian teams abroad.
Your favourite music?
Slow rock. Sting, Phil Collins
etc. In Indian I like old Hindi songs. Kishore Kumar. I normally
borrow cassettes on tour. Hardly carry 10 myself. It gets difficult to
lug around stuff on tour.
Your childhood idols?
Sunny Gavaskar, Gundappa
Vishwanath, Kapil Dev. Now they are Sachin, Azhar, Srinath and Kumble.
From other teams, Steve Waugh.