Saturday 23 July 2011

15 Years Later - Journey of The Great Indian Wall continues

It took fifteen years to witness what I missed on the English summer of 1996. As a 11 year old kid, I used to run to my friend's house down the road to watch cricket. Our house had cable connection, but due to different cable operators, ESPN wasn't on our viewing menu. Disappointed I was, but wasn't depressing as I had a friend who told me he had ESPN on his menu.
It was the evening of 21st June; India started their innings after England unfolded for 344 which included a resurgent hundred by Jack Russell batting lower down the order. Third day of the Test match after having played street cricket with my friends, I rushed to Basava's house 300 meters away from my house. First thing I remember was Ajay Jadeja getting out to Ronnie Irani, in fact he was bowled. Five wickets down and carrying the burden of having earlier watched Lewis castling Sachin Tendulkar, I thought to myself, Let's see what's in store for India this time.
This was my first viewing of India - England Test match, held in England. It was Lord's. I missed the first Test match at Edgbaston because I spent more time mourning and fighting with the cable operators. Looking back, wish Basava had told me his house had ESPN telecast.
Coming back to the Test match, out comes Rahul Dravid, local boy and someone for whom I always prayed he did well. He had a series of poor run at Singer Cup in Singapore and in Sharjah Cup against Pakistan and South Africa. I liked Rahul Dravid more so because he was from Bangalore. Till date, he remains my second favourite cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar.
Rahul Dravid joins Saurav Ganguly in the middle. Ganguly gets out after making a wonderful 131. By then, Dravid had weathered the initial butterflies a debutant goes through. And at the end of third day's play he had reached the first milestone of scoring a fifty. He had his Bangalore mate Kumble alongside him.
Day 4 - 23rd June, Sunday; I had to go with my parents to visit some relatives and also to shop for my birthday. Back then, I had to buy chocolates and sweets for my fellow classmates and teachers. Also had to plan what kind of dishes and number of friends I would have to invite home the next day. The match would begin at 3.30 in the noon (Indian time) and I had some time.
After shopping and the visits, I rushed to Basava's house to watch cricket. Kumble was out by then and very soon Javagal Srinath had to return back to the pavilion. I was bit nervous and was praying for Dravid's century. He took his time, taking singles and was well supported by Paras Mhambrey, who was playing his second Test. And then the moment came, Rahul Dravid edges a delivery from Chris Lewis through to Jack Russell and thereby ended his moment of glory by scoring a century on debut. He missed the landmark by five runs.
I was a happy man to see Dravid finally scoring runs. He followed it up by 84 at Trent Bridge, Nottingham in the third Test. He never looked back in the Tests since then.
15 years and one month hence, on a Saturday afternoon - Rahul Dravid walked out to bat at Lord's in what seems to be his last Test at this very venue where he made his Test debut. Barring Tendulkar, no one else in the current squad witnessed his debut as a mate. In these 15 years, Dravid managed to develop a unique relationship with Lord's. In his 154th Test, Dravid became the first player to play at Lord's while being a active member of MCC, now made it extra special by scoring the hundred. In his fourth attempt he finally made it at a place where it all began for him.
In the years to come, this hundred by Dravid shall remain in my memory. It has a journey of a cricketer and also the journey of me as a follower. I am watching the match on my laptop, in the city of Zurich, quite different from the street when I first saw him bat. It just goes to show, 15 years indeed seems a long time, but 'The Wall' manages to stay firm and looks solid for few more years to come.

1 comment:

  1. it reflect how passionate u r :p the details of what happened 15 yrs ago presented as if happened yesterday :p Rahul dravid is my most favourite cricketer (not 2nd best ) and way he carries himself and proves his worth is truely inspiring :p thank you rajan for writing this one :p5 yrs ago presented as if happened yesterday :p Rahul dravid is my most favourite cricketer (not 2nd best ) and way he carries himself and proves his worth is truely inspiring :p thank you rajan for writing this one :p