Ajinkya Rahane (left) and Rahul Dravid exemplify the old-school of batting in the slam-bang T20 cricket while batting for Rajasthan Royals © AFP
By Sarang Bhalerao
In this slam-bang version we yearn to see the classical stuff. The basic tenets of batting like getting to the pitch of the ball and driving the ball through the carpet — a philosophy might sound incongruent in today’s day and age. There are advertisers for sixes. Majority of the shots are courtesy of beefed-up bats, muscles of the batsman and innovations — a facet of modern batting that has made cricket a spectacle and bowlers a long-suffering species on most occasions.
Sadly, this is not a format where watertight technique exhibition — getting bat and pad together and defending a good ball — will get wholesome praises. A defence is frowned upon. A French cut for a boundary is considered to be part of the game — appreciation for the same befuddles the batsmen of the next generation.
Yet, there are two batsmen who exemplify the old-school of batting. Rahul Dravid is akin to an ustaad who has hit high notes on many an occasion. He continues to do that, his relentless pursuit for perfection gets the best out of him. Ajinkya Rahane is picking up nuances; the connoisseur of the art is his reference point. Rahane is well-versed with the alaap: that mingled with confidence and the greatness will embrace the 24-year-old like it had embraced the 40-year-old, decade and a half back.
Against Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday, Delhi Daredevils bowlers had a spring in their stride looking at the conditions on offer at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium. But breaching Jaipur’s citadel needs nerves of steel, strategic planning and tactical astuteness. Delhi had valour, but Rajasthan had class to overcome the challenge. The duo played weathered the initial storm. Siddharth Kaul, Umesh Yadav, Morne Morkel and Ajit Agarkar tested Royals openers’ fortitude.
Dravid was beaten; occasionally embarrassed, but he is a practitioner of the philosophy: ‘Nothing is more embarrassing than losing the wicket.’ Rahane played a few loose shots, but he admonished himself and sought inspiration from Dravid. Proper cricketing shots took over. Both guru and chela avoided all corruptions in their approach. They key to their game was laced with finesse. It was a sight for sore eyes.
In hindsight, the path to victory was traversed with consummate ease. The conclusion is what we see, but the means to achieve the end tells you a different story.
The batting was like plain ‘dal chawaal (dal rice)’. Isn’t that what one yearns for after being on a heavy diet? Dravid and Rahane have redefined batting; T20 looks much more beautiful when the disciple and his heir apparent sing on the same raga.
(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)