In what could’ve been possibly the last competitive cricket match for Rahul Dravid, he pulled off a couple of master-strokes with his captaincy. For a man known to rely on method over madness, he outwitted Mahendra Singh Dhoni with some surprising moves in the semi-final clash of the ongoing Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2013. Aayush Puthran explains how Dravid continues to stamp his class with the changing demands of the game.
It was a perfect evening at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur, where the crowd was relatively decent in number as compared to what it has been throughout the 2013 Champions League. Rahul Dravid, leading the home side, could have well been playing his last match of competitive cricket. He realized it and so did everybody else that despite their then 12-match unbeaten streak at the venue; it would’ve taken something out of the ordinary to beat the mighty Chennai Super Kings.
Pitted against Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Dravid couldn’t rely on the cool card either. In a bid to outwit the more famous skipper, Dravid made a couple of uncharacteristic daring moves, which fortunately for him, paid off:
1) Promoting Kevon Cooper at No 3 in the batting order:
Even though the idea of promoting a pinch-hitter in Twenty20 is no rocket science, Dravid, much like Dhoni, has relied on a set batting order, barring the odd occasion or the demand of the hour. In a surprising move in the first semi-final clash, Cooper was promoted at one down to hit some lusty blows. He muscled his way to a seven-ball 14, hitting two boundaries and a six, to give the home side some momentum after the early dismissal of their skipper. Cooper’s effectiveness was proved when, Mohit Sharma, who was the chief victim of his assault, wasn’t too delighted even after getting his wicket in an over that yielded 15 runs for Rajasthan.
2) Six bowlers in first seven overs:
After opening the bowling with Stuart Binny, Dravid introduced five more bowlers into the attack in the next six overs. Given the conditions, 160 was a modest total to defend against the star-studded line-up of Chennai. The move proved decisive as it was the rare failure of the Chennai top-order which made the ultimate difference in the result.
Even as Ajinkya Rahane and Pravin Tambe stole the limelight in Rajasthan’s 14-run victory, it was hard to ignore Dravid’s contribution as the skipper. It was a rare display of method over madness by a man who has rarely shown signs of impulsiveness, as a batsman or as a captain in the past. He brought in a more scientific approach to the art of captaincy. However, against a man who is known to rely on his instincts, Dravid showed off a hidden class of his captaincy.
Even as his batting has failed to click in his farewell tournament, Dravid’s contribution has still remained crucial in the success of Rajasthan Royals in the ongoing CLT20. After being embroiled in the spot-fixing controversy during the Indian Premier League (IPL), followed by the subsequent life bans on S Sreesanth and Ankeet Chavan, coupled with charges against Ajit Chandila and a one-year ban on Siddharth Trivedi, Rajasthan wouldn’t have been the happiest camp. In the absence of Chandila and Chavan, Dravid backed the 42-year old Tambe to deliver the results, which he did in a fairytale fashion.
It was fitting that the young cricketers in the side had the presence of a player like Dravid to look up to. Dravid too went on record to say that the team environment is one of the key factors for their success in the tournament. Even as he leaves the cricket field at the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium in Delhi after the final, irrespective of the result, he would be commanding the respect that few others do, not merely on past laurels, but on current class that he continues to stamp wherever he plays.
(Aayush Puthran is a reporter with CricketCountry. Mercurially jovial, pseudo pompous, perpetually curious and occasionally confused, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of filter kaapi!)