Rahul Dravid was among the rare breeds of players whose defensive ability terrified even the deadliest bowling attack. In his playing days, Dravid was a tireless guy who was extremely difficult to get rid off once he got well-accustomed to the conditions.
No wonder, bowlers often came up with a well-defined plan to attack ‘The Wall,’ as Dravid is popularly known across the cricketing world.
Pakistan’s former pacer Shoaib Akhtar has recalled an interesting anecdote from the 1999 Pepsi Cup when he and Shahid Afridi wanted to dismiss Dravid as early as possible to enjoy their Friday night plans.
The ‘Rawalpindi Express’ remarked that India had lost a few early wickets in their mammoth 292-run chase, and the victory was highly unlikely for the home team in Bengaluru.
“If a batsman used to play, like Rahul Dravid, we would bowl him length balls. From close to the stump we would aim at the gap between bat and pad, try to hit the ball on the pad. There was a final match in Bangalore, I had dismissed Sadagoppan Ramesh early, we took 3-4 wickets early. Sachin Tendulkar was not playing,” Akhtar said in his interaction with Aakash Chopra on the latter’s YouTube channel.
“Shahid Afridi and I said Rahul Dravid will take a lot of time and it’s Friday night today. Afridi said bowl something and take his wicket else he will play for a long. I hit him directly on the pad and urged the umpire to raise his fingers.”
“I even said it’s our Friday night. He did not give the decision in our favour but we had won in the end. Dravid was a difficult and determined batsman. It was difficult for me as well as him. He would play against me easily,” he added.
Pakistan won that match comfortably by 123-runs after bowling out their arch-rival for a paltry score of 168 runs. Akhtar finished the game with two wickets to his name while Azhar Mahmood was adjudged as the ‘Man of the Match’ for his five-wicket haul.