God of slips

The simplicity with which Dravid pouches the most stunning catches in the slips is amazing

Envy and admiration rarely go together. But when one watches Rahul Dravid in a slip cordon, taking those breathtaking blinders, these contrasting feelings run through the veins.

On the second thought, it should be easier on our conscience for we lesser mortals are not even engineered to create such beautiful cricketing moments. But what about iconic names like Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman who stand next to him in the slip cordon. Both of them are fine slippers in their own right but deep down even they know Dravid is a class apart.

Is Dravid naturally gifted, genetically designed to be a slipper or is it hours and hours of practice at the nets? The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle.

It was quite evident in the half-an-hour of specialized fielding session at the nets. Coach Gary Kirsten was at the helm — with the bat. Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid formed the slip cordon with MS Dhoni donning the gloves.

The ball was ‘seriously traveling’ to the three slippers but the trio made catching look a simple affair. At the point of impact, the ball made a muffled sound when it hit the hands of Sachin and Laxman but in the case of Rahul it was as if his hands were fitted with a silencer.

A closer look revealed the perfect alignment of Dravid’s body while waiting for an edge to come his way. With his palms open and hands bent at the elbow, Dravid crouches really low. With the two legs nicely spaced and body weight equally distributed, the back makes a beautiful arch forward, giving him a perfect balance to move either side.

A set of 10 catches kept coming at them; Sachin and Laxman dropped a few but the ball kept disappearing into Dravid’s soft hands. In the entire session, he probably dropped one but pulled off several stunning catches. One stunning left-handed catch even left Sachin, Gary, Laxman, and Dhoni clapping in sheer admiration.

It’s only in the fitness of things that the world record of the highest number of catches (186) in Test cricket rests on his shoulder as effortlessly and gracefully as he makes those catches.

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