When nearly 15 years ago Rahul Dravid walked back dejected to the visitors pavilion at Lord’s he had tears in his eyes. Well something was bound to change all these years past. This time he walked off with his head held high.
After batting nearly the entire day, Dravid stood alone amongst ruins. After the Indian openers had made a positive start to the day, Gambhir played all around a delivery and that brought Dravid to the crease with the score at 63. 8 runs later, youngster Mukund was also back in the pavilion having chopped a ball onto the stumps in eagerness to get to a 50. Mukund’s impatience would cost India dearly as he was one of the few Indian batsmen who looked comfortable while at the crease.
In strode Tendulkar to an ovation that very few would be privileged to receive from the English public. However he flattered to deceive and was constantly troubled by the English pacers. His stay at the crease soothed Dravid who started playing more freely. However Tendulkar fell to Broad and Laxman departed soon after failing to negotiate a rising delivery by Tremlett. Raina showed his inexperience and was caught playing across to a straight delivery. Dhoni stuck around gamely and we looked to be in a repeat of Dhoni’s heroics 4 years ago when he saved the test match for India.
However that was not to be as the second new ball accounted for Dhoni and two balls later Harbhajan fell too. Dravid stood alone amongst the ruins. He got some support from Praveen Kumar while Ishant and Zaheer just delayed the inevitable. However the end came only after Dravid reached to a well deserved century. The century was over 15 years due but worth its weight in gold. India conceded a lead of 188 and are looking pretty much down the barrel unless they play exceptionally well from this point on.
There are two things that would enthuse the Indian public – one, Indian innings saw Zaheer walk out to bat. That should be enough indication that the speedster is fit once again and would bowl in the second innings. His presence should help the other fast bowlers including Praveen who should be on a high having taken 5 wickets in the first innings. Secondly is the odd statistic that in the 32 times that Dravid has hit a century before today, only one effort came in a losing cause- against Zimbabwe in Harare. India will have to perform out of their skins to save this test match but this team has the ability and character to bounce back even from this situation that they find themselves in.