Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dravid or Tendulkar:To choose or not to choose

Greatness is a virtue which can't be compared. Yet, the human mind is compelled to judge and measure the difference created by people and their eminence. Here I am trying to assess the contribution of two legends of the modern day game. Both are Arjuna awardees, both have scored over 10,000 runs in ODIs and Tests in their respective illustrious careers and both have also captained India. Yes, I am talking about Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar. India has never been short of batting talent, but the heights touched by these two have been unprecedented. My sole aim to write on this topic is to talk about the massive contribution by the two superstars that India has been privileged to have. I do not intend to compare their greatness, or state who is better.

When it comes to ODIs, I believe Tendulkar has had a greater impact than Dravid. It was Sachin who everyone believed would save India in tough run chases and give them a good start when they batted first. With superb fighting knocks throughout his career, he became India's favourite son. Every shot he played was and is still cheered by Indian crowd. Whether you talk about his back to back centuries in Sharjah against Australia or his 200* against South Africa this year, almost every century has been special. Not only has he heavily contributed with the bat, he has occasionally provided vital breakthroughs as a bowler for India as well. No one can forget the Tendulkar-Ganguly partnership, which was a world class opening pair. Tendulkar's performances in the World Cups have been really good as well, as he was the highest scorer at the 1996 as well as 2003 edition when India finished as runners up. 'The Little Master', as he is fondly called, shares the ODI record for highest run partnership ever of 331 with none other than Dravid, who at first wasn't believed to be a good limited overs player, but he proved critics wrong by adapting to the game wonderfully and scoring tons of runs. He isn't as much of a stroke-maker as Sachin is, but still has been among India's batting mainstay for many years. He might find himself without a berth in current ODI squad, however I feel that it is politics and not his performance which is keeping him out. The Wall has sacrificed for the team like no other guy. He has often shifted his position from his regular number 3 to number 5 or 6 and at times even opened the batting to help the cause of the team. This is probably one of the reasons why his average is slightly below 40, which still is a superb record. He also went on to don the wicketkeeper’s role under Ganguly's captaincy so that India could accommodate an extra batsman. This move paid rich dividends as India had a great run during 2002-03. He was also the highest run scorer in 1999 WC in England, when he scored to back to back hundreds. But sometimes people remember only the 2007 World Cup debacle and associate his name with it. They forget how well he played in the two previous editions as he still averages a staggering 61 in WC matches.

In the recent test against Sri Lanka, Tony Greig commented that Tendulkar was the India's best batsmen and not Dravid. Frankly, I don't agree with him, since in tests 'Jammy' has been more crucial for India. Dravid has been India's backbone in tests particularly when playing abroad. His overseas performances have made Indian fans like myself believe that India could win even in bouncy and seaming conditions. He became India's go-to man in hostile conditions and under pressure. He holds the record of being the only batsman of this era to have scored four centuries in four consecutive innings. Dravid is among the very few batsmen who average higher away from their home country. Under Saurav Ganguly, who is India's most successful test captain with 21 wins, Dravid was just phenomenal. In these 21 matches he averaged 102 and scored nearly 23% of runs scored by India. This is the highest percentage contribution by any batsman in Test cricket history in matches won under a single captain where the captain has won more than 20 Tests. No one can forget how he, along with VVS Laxman, batted one whole day in the famous Kolkata Test of 2001 and turned the match on its head. The Bangalorean was also the key architect of India's win in Adelaide in '03 as he batted for 835 minutes in the match making 233 and 72*. Almost every test win outside India had a significant contribution from Dravid. Also, number of matches he has saved is incomparable. Tendulkar is most definitely a key member of the Indian Test team and has played some great knocks like the 148* on a bouncy Sydney pitch back in 1991-92 and 241* in 2003,where he showed great determination by not playing any shot on the off-side in order to avoid his downfall. He has dominated various attacks from different parts of the world and has won millions of hearts. He also has a lot more centuries than anybody else on the planet, yet the number of matches that Dravid has won and saved is far more. Hence, Dravid has left a larger footprint in the Test arena.

When the two are compared on basis of captaincy, Rahul Dravid has a better record. Sachin, in spite of personally doing well as batsmen, was unlucky as the team went through rough patches during both his terms as the captain. India had a world record of 17 consecutive ODI wins while chasing, 15 of which were under Dravid, while 2 were under Ganguly. Under Dravid, India also won 8 consecutive ODIs. Even in tests Dravid has the upper hand. He led India to a series wins in England as well as West Indies, where he was even the "Man of the Series". India won its first test match in South Africa under Dravid, who was also picked as captain of the ICC's Test team in '06. I firmly believe that captaincy requires a certain amount of luck and Sachin didn't have the rub of the green going his way on most occasions. Dravid in most stages as skipper has done well, although he had to go through a tough time as India crashed out of 2007 World Cup in the first round itself.

Even though in the last two years when Tendulkar has been in better form, Dravid's selfless approach and outstanding overseas performances make him my favourite. I can't take anything away from the master blaster from Mumbai and in spite of the enormous respect that I have for him, Dravid ranks slightly higher in my books.

Who would your pick be?


  1. I really never understand the reason why such comparisons become necessary. These two men are giants of India's batting in this era. Their contributions really cannot be compared.

    And if comparisons need to be made, one really cannot say that this man had a better career than the other one. The only way to compare them is over specific time periods.

    From 1996 - 2001, SRT was better than RSD not only because he was more prolific but also because Team India was completely reliant on him. From 2002 - 2006, RSD was better than SRT as he played some of the most memorable knocks in India's Test history, and as you rightly said, helped India believe that we can win abroad. And then 2007 - 2010, SRT has again had a better phase than RSD where he as saved Test matches, played match-winning century knocks in 4th innings chases and achieved a lot more than men of his age have managed.

    But let us just salute these two men and enjoy every bit of what is left of them in international cricket for India.

  2. I agree that SRT and RSD are gaints and comparing isn't neccessary.I also agree that late 90's era was totally SRT's while early years of this decade were RSD's.
    But,I compared these two because a few friends of mine just casually started to question RSD after the recent SL series.They,like most indians think SRT is God,while RSD is just another batsmen.I decided to bring out statistics to prove them wrong.That is how I started working on this article.
    I too,have equal amount of respect for both the legends,but from the bottom of my heart,I feel RSD contribution is slightly higher.I also feel,he has always been overshadowed by SRT,which is why this article.I will give you an example.On the first day of IPL 2,Mumbai won a match were Tendulkar scored 60 odd,while Bangalore won another match when Dravid scored 60 odd.Dravid scored a higher % of runs,on a tougher pitch,yet,all the news channel talked about Sachin and hardly about Dravid.Next morning's newspaper had a photo of Sachin on the front page,while Dravid didn't even get a whole paragraph even in the sports page.Such things piss me off,and hence the article.

  3. Oh, I get your feelings then!

    I am frankly a bigger fan of SRT, and with good reason! There are his numbers that one can talk about, then one can even like him for his demeanour, and like me, one can even adore him for the influence he has had on the youth of this nation... making them believe that miracles are possible if you are willing to work hard and believe that it's possible.

    But all this, by no means, reduces the tremendous amount of respect and admiration I have for RSD. To stand out so prominently when surrounded by great men like SRT, Ganguly, Laxman, Kumble and the like is an exemplary feat.

    He may not be in the best of forms right now... may even have reached the twilight of his awesome career, but I can still never hear a word of disrespect towards this man. After having achieved so much for Indian cricket, these men deserve the chance to bow out at their own will... and no one can blame RSD or SRT or VVS if they say that they want to bow out in glory!

    I hope your friends recognise the futility of comparing these men with each other to judge who is better... because they'd be much better of if they just sit down and enjoy the timeless beauty of batting that these men have to offer!

  4. If dravid come to indian oneday team, then only india ll win world cup
    otherwire india ll come back in league (first round )itself ma

    dravid is very very very needfull bet 15th to 35th over

    if dravid not there ,india should all out with in 30 over........it is sure... lets see


  5. Hi Hareesha,

    Welcome to the blog firstly.As you said,Dravid is very crucial in 15-35 overs.He plays the perfect anchoring role while players can bat around him.
    Now that the indian team is getting targeted by short pitch stuff,his presence becomes even more important,since he is India's best short ball player.

  6. my pick would undoubtedly be none other than rahul dravid the great

  7. Well I would not be able to choose between them because I love both of them equally.Since I began understanding cricket,I have watched them play.For me cricket starts & ends with Sachin Tendulkar & Rahul Dravid,so I think I would probably stop watching Cricket once both of them would stop playing.Dont compare them though,both are great players in their own sense.

  8. Thanks mate for writing this stuff.
    For me Sachin is like a GOD who has all the power and realm to rule. He has many devotees including some blind followers. He does NOTHING WRONG.

    But Dravid is like a father who does the BEST for his children under any circumstances. He put himself last in the priority. He is so selfless, so calm and still rock hard.
    He is the definition of cricket if it is a gentleman's game.
    He does everything RIGHT.

    And so is my answer: I love a father far more that almighty.

    Hail Dravid and Dravidism!!!

  9. Have watched cricket for almost 50 years and followed it on radio for over 52 years. RSD is the most honorable cricketer to have played for India. He is extremely talented but appears to be less so only because India has a huge bank of other talented players such as Tendulkar, Sehwag and Laxman, not to forget the great Dada of Kolkatta. Dravid has chosen the most self effacing role and thus plays unselfishly for the team. Gavaskar used to play carefully till one fine day he decided that he would enjoy himself and he hit a very fast century against a WI attack that had Marshall, Holding, Wayne Daniels and Winston Davis. His reasons were political as KD was the captain. If he had got out India would have been in deep trouble. Dravid has never been allowed to do so by a capricious middle order that can collapse in a heap or rise to great heights. He takes on the comments of ignoramuses and the praises of fans with total equanimity, saying something like "wish I could be reborn as Veeru." Great does not do justice to him as even people like dhoni are called great.
    However, having said that, it is a fact that Tendulkar is equally great, if not greater. Comparing Dravid and Tendulkar is like comparing a great main course and a great dessert. Both are different. And where do we place Laxman and the destructive Sehwag? All these are greats in their own way. For the purist in me, there is no cricketer greater than RSD. For an overall attacking cum defensive player and sheer durable talent, it is SRT. For visual delight and when chips are really down, VVS. And for elegant aggression, Veeru. Just take your pick depending on your mood! Enjoy each of these stalwarts for the next two or three years because the first three will be gone by then from the Cricket field and the fourth can never play in the same aggressive manner without their backing.

  10. Welcome to the blog Mr.R.A Krishna.
    Great to see someone with so much cricketing experience commenting on the post.
    I cannot agree more on the second line that you have written Sir.RSD is definitely an honorable player just like SRT,but I personally rate him higher than SRT.

  11. Let's only talk about Test cricket while comparing as when it comes to ODI, I don't see anyone coming close to Sachin to even compare. Sachin scores better than any other batsmen in current generation and with amazing consistency. Despite Dravid's crucial innings, he is not as consistent (reminds you of Lara) and hence many times the Indian teams batting barden went to Sachin (and occassionally to others like Sehwag, Laxman). I see only Sachin scoring so consistently for so long a time. So, it's Sachin for me.

  12. Welcome to the blog Ashik and thanks for following me.
    Sachin is most definitely ahead in ODIs, no doubt about it. In tests, I personally see Dravid being better because he made me believe that India could win abroad when I was merely 10-15 years old and hoping to be a cricketer.

    Though Sachin's purple patch of late is bringing him closer and closer to RD in my books. Many others like you, consider RD second best which isn't wrong either.






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