Friends of mine know how big a fan I am of this man, Rahul Dravid. When one of them said Rahul should do some domestic duties before he came back to play Test cricket after his dismal tour Down Under, I fumed. I swore by Dravid and shouted on top of my voice that he is the best batsman Indian cricket has had in the recent past and would continue to be in the near future too.
I was sure I would never change my opinion, for I love the way Rahul plays his cricket. His exquisite extra cover drive, the silken ondrive, he is the best. The friend responded with a call for me to get out of my dream world, the world where Rahul Dravid, The Wall is the king.
Slightly shaken, I started doing some math on Rahul's recent performances. The stand out was the recent home series against South Africa, the Chennai Test to be precise. This is where Rahul joined the 10,000 club and supposedly scored a scintillating century. A second look at the scorecard told me that my dear Rahul had played a gem of an innings, for himself.
The innings he played was as fast as a millipede's quick march, made sure India drew the Test, when victory was at sight. A must have won Test was drawn, and India went on to lose the next Test on a pacy wicket in Ahmedabad. No doubt, the series was drawn but India could easily have won the series convincingly had Rahul paced his Chennai innings to the needs of the team than that of his selfish motives. And now I started agreeing with my friend who had remarked earlier that Rahul needs to play some Ranji before he gets back to his original best at the international level.
The next match of Rahul I watched was the IPL, Bangalore vs Mumbai. It was a T20 match and Bangalore were chasing Mumbai's 165 in 20. And Rahul opened the innings with Shiv Chanderpaul. He as usual was at his millipedal best. He had no clue as to what Shaun Pollock was bowling to him. The closest I had seen a bowler being that successful before was when I bowled to my two-and-a-half year-old son, when he was two and was learning to hold his bat.
As Sunil Gavaskar in the commentary remarked, he was trying to settle down before he opened up, in a T20 match. It seemed like he didn't want his team to win. I was thinking someone from the Bangalore camp would send a message to Rahul on field that there was no draw in the T20 format and restore some sanity in the middle. It was either a win or otherwise.
Boucher and Kallis managed to pull off a near impossible victory in the end. There would still be people who would say Rahul set a stage for the victory. If I were the coach of the Bangalore team, I would frankly not want a victory set up like this. Nerve-wracking victories like this would cause fatigue and would tire the minds of the team.
Being a big fan of Rahul, I don't want to see him kicked out of cricket someday. I would hence recommend that he took a quick decision. Analyse where he stands today honestly and do something about it quickly. As Greg Chappell told Sourav some years ago, there is life outside cricket too. I am sure Rahul is sane enough to know this truth. A quick decision by him now might save a buck or two for Mr Mallya and make the cricket Bangalore team plays resemble the T20 brand, at least.