Rahul Dravid has forever been the unsung hero of Indian cricket. Whenever Team India were pushed into a corner, the silent warrior would put his hand up and grind it out for his country.
The 44-year-old continues to be the workhorse of Indian cricket to date. While most of his contemporaries spend their time either commentating, building their careers as administrators, or taking up business ventures, Dravid spends his under the sun – nurturing the next crop of match-winners for the country.
Two special youngsters under this wings are Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson. Both batsmen play for Delhi Daredevils (DD), coached by Dravid, in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
On Thursday, both Pant and Samson showed the world just what they’re capable of when they absolutely destroyed Gujarat Lions’ bowlers at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi.
The talented duo put on a mammoth 143-run stand for the second wicket to give DD a much-needed win in IPL 2017. While Samson smashed 61 off 31 balls, Pant was even more belligerent during his 43-ball 97. Together, they hit 16 sixes and six fours during their epic partnership.
Now, there is no doubt in the fact that some of the credit for Pant and Samson’s success has to go to Dravid – the former India captain has even coached them in junior cricket – one wonders just how much of an influence he has actually had on the duo’s batting. After all, Dravid’s style is diametrically opposite to Pant and Samson’s. While the senior pro possessed arguably the most sound technique in the history of the game, the youngsters in question have modelled their game more on the Virender Sehwag school of batting.
Touching upon this point, Dravid was engaged in a hilariously wonderful conversation with Pant and Samson after the match on Thursday. The DD head coach took it upon himself to conduct an interview with the two stars of the match, and the result was an absolute treat.
Here are excerpts from that chat:
Dravid: So boys, I’m glad when you’ll were growing up you’ll actually learned by watching me bat (laughs heartily). I used to bat exactly like that. I’m glad that they didn’t watch too many videos of me batting. Well done boys, terrific innings, super stuff. Chasing 208, what was your conversation in the middle?
Pant: I just told Sanju bhai, if the ball is there to hit, just go for it. Don’t think too much about the next ball. If the next delivery is there to hit, go for it again.
Dravid: That’s a pretty good mind-set! When you’re chasing such a huge total, do you look to target specific bowlers? Though when you’re chasing 208, I think you’re targeting every bowler (laughs). But were there any set plans?
Pant: As I told you sir, we decided to hit a bad ball if we got one. We just planned everything like that only. I kept telling that to Sanju bhai. He was making some plans initially, but once he started middling the ball he told me that he’ll go for everything.
Dravid: Sanju, did you enjoy batting with Rishabh?
Samson: Yea I really enjoyed. I think I started my innings pretty well. After hitting a couple of sixes during the knock when I thought of taking a single, Rishabh came up to me and told me, ‘Bhaiya zyaada socho mat, bas maarte raho (Don’t think too much brother, just keep hitting)’. I think that really helped me.
Dravid: Incredible innings from the two boys, and truly well deserved. But as I am a hard task-master, I hope next time you’ll will finish the job and stay not-out (all laugh).