Mumbai: Rahul Dravid Under Scrutiny in India


Mumbai, Nov 28: Rahul Dravid's Test future looks uncertain as a wind of change sweeps through Indian cricket, stirring up debate over the batsman's form and age ahead of next month's planned two home Tests against England.

Dravid has been the key to India's batting for more than a decade but at 35 the player, who has looked tentative since he gave up the captaincy last year to focus on his batting, is under scrutiny after faring poorly in his last seven Tests.

Dravid, one of the greats of his generation, managed just 268 runs in 13 completed innings spread over two series against Sri Lanka and Australia, prompting questions about whether it was time for him to make way for someone younger.

One of four batsmen in the world to score more than 10,000 runs in Test and One-day cricket, Dravid looked in particularly woeful form against Australia, scoring just 120 runs in four Tests, even as India won their first series in seven years.

"If he was 29 and he had gone through this kind of bad patch, you would persist with him, wouldn't you?" former India opener Sunil Gavaskar told a news channel during the final Australia Test.

"With his record you would say that, yes, he is allowed a few failures and you would pick him.

"But he is not 29. He is now 35-36, and it is the time when a tough call has to be made," added the former Test captain, the first batsman in Test cricket to reach 10,000 runs.

"My feeling is that he will not be picked for the England series simply because there are a couple of young players waiting in the wings."

Possible Successors

The talented Rohit Sharma from the successful One-day set-up and Cheteshwar Pujara, who scored back-to-back triple centuries in the premier national competition, are spoken of as possible successors.

India are due to host England in Ahmedabad from December 11 and in Mumbai from December 19 but the future of the two-Test series was being considered following Wednesday's militant attacks in Mumbai which prompted cricket officials to call off the last two One-day games between the two sides.

Dravid, along with four other veterans, came under increasing pressure following their poor performance in the 2-1 Test series defeat in Sri Lanka in July and August.

A board official said last month that Anil Kumble, Saurav Ganguly, Dravid, Vangipurappu Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar, all well into their 30s, had been told to plan their retirements by December.

Ganguly and Kumble announced their retirements during the Australia series.

Ganguly ended his colourful career in a blaze of glory, scoring a century and a fifty as India recorded a 2-0 victory in the four-Test series, after announcing at the start of the series that it would be his last.

Poor Run

Yuvraj Singh, who scored back-to-back hundreds in the first two One-dayers against touring England, is expected to take Ganguly's No. 6 Test spot.

Laxman and Tendulkar scored 381 and 396 runs respectively in the Australia series to dismiss suggestions that they were past their sell-by date.

Dravid's continued poor run has left him open to criticism, however.

In 17 Tests since he gave up the captaincy following the tour of England last year, the No. 3 batsman has averaged 30.13, compared to his career average of 52.61, and scored one century.

Dravid lost his place in the One-day side last year when the selectors decided to pick younger players following India's first-round exit at the World Cup in the Caribbean.

He has, however, scored 83 for Karnataka in a domestic competition this week, giving the national selectors food for thought. 


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