India’s greatest match-winning batsman ever is…

For long, the Sunil Gavaskar versus Gundappa Viswanath debate has been firmly sealed, signed and delivered in favour of the latter’s style, selflessness, civility and above all, match-winning prowess. With his 32nd century in his 151th Test, has Rahul Dravid followed in the footsteps of his idol, making it 2-0 in the Bombay vs Karnataka battle?

***

Harsha Bhogle in the Indian Express:

“It is already fifteen years since a simple, elegant, studious and very likeable young man walked out to bat for India at Lords. It was an appropriate setting. Rahul Dravid is neatly turned out, plays the game correctly, likes the traditions associated with the game and is respectful of them. It is not difficult to see why the English would like him. In 1996 though he was significantly more humble and courteous than those I seemed to run into at the ground.

“Not much has changed since then. He is still as intense as ever, still unlikely to sport the ponytail he rejected in one of his earliest commercials, still deeply enamoured by the idea of playing for India, still very out of place in the Kingfisher jingle! That intensity is worth studying though for Dravid knows no other way of playing the game”

Suresh Menon in Tehelka:

“Dravid is the least obtrusive of players, he demands little mind space. He wears his passion on one sleeve, his intelligence on the other. It is a rare combination that evokes awe rather than love, admiration more than conviviality. He is the intelligent man’s guide to what a sportsman ought to be—modest, dependable, well educated, with the gift of grace under pressure and a perspective that is adult.

“While carving out a distinct cricketing personality despite performing alongside Sachin Tendulkar, Dravid ensured that the Indian team retained some of the old-fashioned values unique to cricket. For some years after that Kolkata partnership with V.V.S. Laxman, Dravid carried the Indian batting on his shoulders, saving Test matches in Port of Spain, Georgetown and Nottingham and playing the key role in victories in Headingley, Adelaide, Kandy and Rawalpindi. He had four centuries in successive innings, and four double centuries in a span of 15 Tests. He made an incredible 23 percent of the runs made by India in the 21 victories under Sourav Ganguly, at an average of 102.84.

“It is necessary to descend into statistics only to underline the fact that with Dravid it is never beauty without cruelty – he is a stylish batsman who makes it count, a do-gooder who is focussed on the result, a century-maker whose innings are not out of touch with team performance but an integral part of it. No ploughing the lonely furrow here, every part is a piece of the main.

“Tendulkar’s batting is a joy of straight lines and geometric precision; Dravid’s bat makes no angles to the wind but describes beautiful arcs. In this, he is the spiritual successor to Gundappa Vishwanath, whose secret of the ferocious square cut was passed on to him in that mysterious way cricketing genes jump from one generation to another. When he was selected for India, Dravid told a colleague, “I don’t want to be just another player. I want to be bracketed with Sunil Gavaskar and Vishwanath.” The schoolboy Dravid had photographs taken with his two heroes.

“In time he would dine at the high table with them. He played more strokes more consistently than Gavaskar and the more risky ones with greater safety than Vishwanath.”

Infographic: courtesy Hindustan Times

Also read: Who cries in Bangalore for Rahul Sharad Dravid?

Why some of us just love to hate Sunil Gavaskar

Sunil Gavaskar: the most petulant cricketer ever?

From Bhadravati, the Bhimsen Joshi of cricket

Gundappa Vishwanath: Once upon a time, idol worship of a chindi kind