Dravid never played for trophies: Childhood friend and ex-teammate Khaleel

Khaleel, former right-hand batter, says the last time he saw Dravid filled with raw emotions was when Karnataka won Ranji together in 1995-96 in Chennai
India’s coach Rahul Dravid
India’s coach Rahul Dravid (File photo | AFP)

CHENNAI: "Indiranagar ka gunda" advertisement, which introduced the ever-reticent Rahul Dravid in a new avatar, became an instant hit a few years ago. Not known to let out his emotions, the former India captain wielding the willow and shouting in anger through the sunroof of his car, though for an advert, was a rare sight to see.

A sight somewhat similar to that was visible on Saturday. Dravid was filled with unbridled joy and the only difference this time was it was not an act. Pure emotions were on display at the Kensington Oval, Barbados on the day after India confirmed their win over South Africa.

He pumped his fists and then let out a big roar while holding the trophy aloft. As Dravid continued his celebrations, players around him watched in amusement and so did everyone including his close friend and former Karnataka player, Fazal Khaleel.

"He is just a very controlled person, not like he is an introvert or an extrovert. Yesterday (Saturday), you know, the actual emotions of a human being came out, may not be Rahul Dravid. It was an emotion of the moment and everything. The last time I saw him with that kind of emotion was when Karnataka won the Ranji Trophy in 1995-96 in Chennai," Khaleel, a former right-hand batter and chairman of selectors with Karnataka Cricket Board, told this daily.

In his long illustrious playing career, the ICC title eluded Dravid and he admitted the same after India's title triumph. "As a player, I was not lucky enough to win a trophy but I tried my best, it was not to be. I was lucky this bunch of players made it possible for me," he said.

Being with him since his childhood, Khaleel, however, said Dravid never played for trophies. "I don't think he played for trophies and statistics and that kind of glory. For him, representing the country was the important thing, doing well for the country was important and winning a World Cup was the byproduct of all that."

In his own words, Dravid wanted people to remember him for what he has given back to the game and not for what he has achieved. "I remember him saying very clearly to me when we were very young that 'I want to be known not only as a Test cricketer who has played for India but as one of the greatest who has played for the country', that was the goal. He wants people to remember him for what he has contributed to Indian cricket not what he got from the sport.

So he wants to give more than what he has achieved. Not everyone gets a chance to play in the WC first of all. Very few people get the opportunity and some are fortunate to be in that team and part of the victory. I think he deserves it at the twilight of his coaching career. He deserves that big prize," Khaleel said.

The tournament was Dravid's last assignment with the team as the head coach but Khaleel believes his friend will continue contributing to Indian cricket in whatever capacity he can. "He didn't really discuss it (future plans) but I think he is always open to Indian cricket whenever required. I think he needs a role to contribute to Indian cricket. Right now, he wants to concentrate more on his family and enjoy the moment of success. His sons are playing cricket, so he wants to focus on their careers as well," said Khaleel.

It was in the Caribbean Islands where India had made an early exit from the 2007 ODI World Cup under the leadership of Dravid. Life certainly seems to have come full circle for Dravid. Khaleel, however, strongly believed it's time to cherish the success instead of dwelling on the past. "I don't think he really pondered too much about that 2007 WC. Among the gifts God has given us, the power to forget is the best. The 2007 WC heartbreak happened a long time back and I think everyone has moved on. It (the recent win) could have brought back memories, but I don't think he let those moments overtake this moment," signed off Khaleel.

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