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Cringe on reading Virat Kohli’s pre-match statements: Rahul Dravid

BENGALURU: At a time when a section of fans attribute the recent successes of Indian cricket to the new found aggression on the field under the firebrand captaincy of Virat Kohli, legendary cricketer Rahul Dravid believes the game is all about performance.

Speaking at the Bangalore Literature Festival here on Sunday, Dravid, whose impregnable batting technique had earned him the title ‘The wall’, said that matches can be won even by players who don’t sport tattoo on their sleeves. And on-field macho, rock star image would be of little help to be on a winning streak, he said.

“Virat sometimes comes across as outrageous and I cringe on reading his statements before a series. But if he can bring the best out of himself by needling the opposition, so be it,” Dravid said.

He was in conversation with journalists Prem Panicker and Rajdeep Sardesai at the session titled ‘Indian Democracy XI’, an allusion to Sardesai’s book on 11 legendary cricketers.

Admitting he could never be like Virat with tattoos, Dravid though defended the young skipper by saying, “We want a little bit of lip on the field.” His word of caution to the budding cricketers, however, was not to copy Virat blindly.

The jam-packed session witnessed ticklish moments with Sardesai trying to put Dravid in a spot hurling his typical TV-moderator questions at one of the most technically sound batsmen the world has seen. Sardesai asked him how he would defend the likes of Virat and Dhoni becoming more powerful than the game and deciding on coaches and when to retire.

While the query on the selection of coach cited the instance of Anil Kumble, who was sacked as the coach of Indian cricket team earlier this year, Dravid said, “It is unfortunate for a legend who was part of the highest number of winning Indian teams to see unceremonious departure. At the same time, it is quite common that coaches always get sacked. I also am the Under-19 Indian team coach. I may also be sacked.”

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On Dhoni’s retirement, he said: “People might have different opinions on when Dhoni should retire. But, if the selectors have selected him, he can play for India as long as he wants.”

Referring to the emergence of a new generation cricketers from smaller cities and towns, Dravid said it had to do with accessibility to facilities and knowledge thanks to commercialisation of the game and television broadcast.

“Although people may deride IPL and T20 format because of which they think cricket has been commercialised, thanks to the money in it, access to facilities are better,” he said, citing the recent Ranji match between Karnataka and Hyderabad held in Shivamogga.

He said youngsters were able to learn cricket by watching legends like Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri on television screens teaching skills.

Three legendary cricketers from Karnataka – Syed Kirmani, EAS Prasanna, and B S Chandrashekhar- were part of the audience and the highlight of the session was when Sardesai called them on the stage and paid them glowing tributes.

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