Self motivation, adaptability and foresight were Rahul Dravid's guidelines as he grinded his way through quite a few difficult phases on Day Two at the MCG © Getty Images
Self motivation, adaptability and foresight were Rahul Dravid’s guidelines as he grinded his way through quite a few difficult phases on Day Two at the MCG © Getty Images


By Sidhanta Patnaik


The ball was still new, just 7.5 overs old, when Rahul Dravid walked down the stairs, swiped his identity card at his onsite location, Melbourne Cricket Ground on this occasion, checked into his cubicle and switched on his laptop. The gentleman from India’s IT capital had a programme to design. The profile demanded him to hold one end together, allow stroke-makers to play freely and establish an innings aimed towards going way ahead of Australia’s first innings total of 333 runs. Not that it was a new key responsibility area for this erudite executive – he does it as well as anyone in the business. But like every day spent at the profession, Tuesday was one of the most important days of his employed life.


A peach of a welcome delivery by Ben Hilfenhaus could have consumed Dravid and made the walk back to the hut one of his longest in 2011. But he survived as the ball left the bat. As it turned out, that was a mere sign of the structural flow of the innings. He broke down the day to his trusted ‘one ball at a time’ formula. His mind frame displayed his survival instincts. Every ball was a virus that needed to be debugged and clarity of mind was the need.


He was tested with a barrage of unplayable deliveries by the young, immaculate and strong shoulders of the pacy Australian attack. As many as he could were left; some were thread close to the off stump. To the naked eyes, it seemed a matter of touch and go. But for the seasoned engineer, it was precise decoding of line, length and their nuances. It was a training function he has been born and bred with.


He scratched, poked, and chased a few wide ones. At times the minimal gap between his bat and pad threatened to elude his attention. Those pitched in the bowler’s preferred areas of the surface questioned his guard and one of them could have so easily crashed through his defence or would have taken the edge to the slip cordon. At times he was desperate to get to the other end in search of a quick breath. There was a period between the 23rd and 30th overs when it looked like he would be terminated from his services soon. Then, just a delivery before he reached his fifty in the 48th over, an edge fell short of Michael Clarke in first slip. He was more of ugly and less of attractive. But when on tour, professionals are paid per-diem for deriving solutions, not for participating in their company’s off-site gatherings. His experience and character made him severe on himself every time his concentration wavered a bit. It allowed him to remain in the present and secure his picket.


By stumps, the password hackers could not penetrate into his network. The day’s objective was attained. Of course he was bowled by a probing Peter Siddle delivery, who overstepped. Luck is cyclical and 2011 is Dravid’s year!


Phase 1 of project 279th Test innings was accomplished. There is still a lot to be played in the current Test match, but in isolation the time spent by Dravid at the crease on Tuesday is the just the tonic he must have hoped for to begin the series. True, he was not always at the top of the fight, but on a day like Day Two of the Melbourne Test when survival was the theme, numbers ceases to create anxiety. The parched crow’s thirst is far from being quenched.


Self motivation, adaptability and foresight were his guidelines as he grinded his way through quite a few difficult phases. He nearly steered his organisation to a position from where the possibility of optimally managing the project could have been envisaged. Whatever the cryptogram is, it is his. Importantly, by the end of play on Day Two, he had faced 185 deliveries – a total of 47.4 percent of the entire Indian innings. It allowed Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar to score fifties at their own pace and reduce the deficit to 119 runs with seven wickets in hand.


The dawn of Wednesday saw Dravid leave early. But Phase Two later in the game will be his next calling to take care of the unfinished business


(Sidhanta Patnaik is a sport marketing professional, public speaker and writes for CricketCountry. His twitter id is @sidhpat)