Dravid, Laxman Need to Produce Forceful Efforts

Durban, Dec 26 (DHNS): Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman are almost certainly on their final tours of South Africa, and both men have a point or two to prove. 

The master craftsman from Bangalore and the wristy stylist from Hyderabad don’t have the most intimidating records on South African soil. Indeed, Dravid averages more than 20 runs per innings less here compared to his career average, while Laxman scores around 12 less on an average as against his overall average in the early 47s.

The two right-handers have prided themselves on performing overseas, and will therefore not be too happy with the numbers they have stacked up in South Africa. Both came here for the first time as young hopefuls in 1996 and while they have since scored heavily in all parts of the world, they have yet to parade their true skills in front of South African fans.

Dravid’s first Test hundred was brought up in Johannesburg at the Wanderers in 1996, but 12 subsequent innings have yielded just two half-centuries. Laxman’s maiden tour ended in disaster after he broke a finger in the second Test in Cape Town and missed Johannesburg, and while he did play a huge role in India’s lone win, at the Wanderers in 2006, with a crucial 73 in the second innings, his overall figures are largely disappointing.

“I always feel that as a batsman, when you do well abroad, it gives you more satisfaction because the conditions are alien,” Laxman told Deccan Herald recently. “We have the experience of playing in these countries for the last so many years but it’s not that these are conditions we are familiar with and play on day in and day out. In India, the wickets are very slow and low; abroad, it’s quick and bouncy wickets and there is a lot of lateral movement. When you do well in these conditions against top-class bowling attacks – the South African attack is one of the best in world cricket – you get a lot of satisfaction.”

That’s the same school of thought Dravid belongs to. The 37-year-old rates his scrappy, battling 148 in the most difficult conditions in Headingley and his 231 in Adelaide – both made in winning causes – as among his top knocks along with twin half-centuries on a veritable minefield in Jamaica in 2006, helping India end a 35-year series drought in the Caribbean.

In Centurion, in both innings, he looked well in control of the conditions and the bowling, receiving near unplayable deliveries on both instances. He has been moving crisply and decisively in the nets, and showed as recently as in Nagpur, when he made a monumental 191, that the passage has diminished neither his appetite for runs nor the ability to bat long.

Conditions at Kingsmead will be as demanding as batsmen can expect. A characteristic knuckling-down effort from Dravid, complemented by Laxman’s steel and style, couldn’t be more welcome.


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