Legends Month: The best of Rahul Dravid
As part of Legends Month on Cricket Network, look back on one of Rahul Dravid's greatest performances
18 May 2018, 12:14 PM AEST
Some five years before the 2003 Adelaide Test, Rahul Dravid requested a chat with Steve Waugh – a man he respected deeply for his ability to master of the mental side of the game.
He quizzed and questioned Waugh about the intellectual side of batting, and went away to digest the information.
"Rahul wanted the extra edge that would elevate his game to the next level," Waugh later wrote, "and at the Adelaide Oval he completed the journey."
Australia batted first in this Test match and charged to 556 on the back of a masterful 242 from Ricky Ponting, who would repeat the dose with 257 a fortnight later at the MCG.
In response, with his team 4-85 and facing a huge first-innings deficit, Dravid teamed up with VVS Laxman and the pair considered how they would attempt to dig their side out of trouble.
"The plan was just to try and build a big partnership – just to bat as long as we possibly could," Dravid told cricket.com.au.
"What we did have was the memory of the Kolkata Test match (in 2001), which had just happened a couple of years before that and we'd batted a whole day without getting out.
"So we were used to having long partnerships together, we trusted each other and we got along really well with each other on and off the field.
"One of the things with the Kookaburra ball, especially in those conditions, is it does get easier to bat after 20-25 overs, the outfield is fast and it's a lovely place to bat once you're playing well."
Just as they'd famously done in Kolkata 18 months earlier, when their record-breaking 376-run partnership stopped a rampant Australia in their tracks, Dravid and Laxman created history.
In a marathon 303-run union, they became the first pair in Test cricket to share two 250-plus partnerships against Australia.
After almost 10 hours at the crease, Dravid was the last wicket to fall; he'd made 233, India trailed by just 33 on the first innings, and the match was well and truly alive.
When India seamer Ajit Agarkar bounded in and supplied the performance of his career with 6-41 to help roll Australia for 196 in their second innings, it was again up to Dravid to anchor the chase of 230 as six wickets fell and the match approached a thrilling climax.
It was Dravid, unbeaten on 72 and having batted for 835 minutes through both innings, who had the final say.
After play, Waugh walked over to Dravid and handed him the ball he'd just cut to the fence to bring up the winning runs.
"For India, it's always been difficult for us to play (in Australia) because the conditions are so different to home," Dravid said.
"So for us to win a Test match in Australia gave us a lot of confidence – we were quite a young team at that stage – that we could play good cricket even in difficult conditions.
"I still have that ball with (Waugh's) signature on it on my house.
"Steve Waugh was someone I grew up watching and admiring a lot. His consistency and the way he went about his cricket was something I looked up to.
"It was really special to get the ball from him.
"I picked his brain at various times and just to chat to him and get to know him was something I really enjoyed."
- a version of this story was first published in Sep, 2016