The careers of the two outstanding batsmen ran pretty much parallelly, they clashed many times, and won as often as they didn’t.
Ricky Ponting made his international debut in February 1995, playing his first Test in December the same year and scoring 96 in his only innings then, in Perth against Sri Lanka. Rahul Dravid started out in April 1996, and made his Test debut in June at Lord’s, scoring 95 in India’s only innings.
Similar starts then, and with both of them finishing up in 2012, there’s a nice thread connecting the two outstanding No.3s of the modern era. The numbers are also not too dissimilar. In Tests, Dravid scored 13,288 runs while Ponting hit 13,378 runs. In one-day internationals, though, Ponting was ahead of Dravid’s mark of 10,889 with 13,704 against his name.
Here’s a look at five occasions when their teams met, mostly in the new millennium, where the two men played key roles for their teams.
2001: Kolkata Test
It’s the famous Test, when Australia took a 274-run first-innings lead, asked India to follow on, and then lost by 171 runs. The stars of the Indian win were VVS Laxman, who scored 281 in India’s second innings, and Harbhajan Singh, who picked up 13 wickets, but playing a stellar role was Dravid too. He swapped batting positions with Laxman, came in at No.6 in the second innings, and batted with Laxman for over 100 overs in putting together 376 runs, the partnership that broke Australia’s spine. Dravid scored 180 in almost seven-and-a-half hours then, while Ponting had a most unmemorable game, scoring 6 and 0, falling to Singh on both occasions.
2003: World Cup final
Ponting would find ways to pay India back for the Kolkata experience in Test cricket, but he first used the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 final to cause deep gashes in the Indian armour. Asked to bat first, the Australians had a 105-run first-wicket stand between Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden. Then Ponting took over, with Damien Martyn (88*) for company. Ponting was at his imperious best on the day, smashing 140* in 121 balls with four fours and eight sixes. That gave Australia 359/2, and India could only get to 234 in reply. Dravid did his bit from No.5, scoring the second-highest of the Indian innings – 47 in 57 balls, but it was far from enough.
2003: Adelaide Test
This was Dravid’s Test, but it could as well have been Ponting’s. Ponting scored 242. Dravid replied with 233. Little between them – just nine runs – as Australia took a 33-run lead. But Ponting was out for a duck the second time as Australia put up only 196 to give India a 230-run chase. Dravid was at the forefront again, scoring an unbeaten 72 to take India to victory by four wickets.
2008: Perth Test
Dravid 93. Ponting 20. Dravid 3. Ponting 45. Dravid outscored Ponting in this one, mainly because of that first-innings near-century, but the Indian bowlers were on song on this occasion as India won by 72 runs. Not the best Test for either player, but both of them did their bit for their teams’ cause. They were both a bit off their peak in the series though, scoring 268 (Ponting) and 237 (Dravid) runs, but it was a fascinating series, which Australia won 2-1.
2012: Adelaide Test
Dravid’s last Test appearance, coming at the end of a poor run in Australia, made special by Ponting’s effervescent knock in the Australian first innings. Dravid tallied 194 runs in eight innings, 26 of them coming in the final Test as India were swept 4-0. Hammering the final nail in the Indian coffin was Ponting, in the main, Michael Clarke and Peter Siddle. Batting first, Australia declared on 604/7, Ponting hitting 221 and Clarke 210. Dravid fell for 1 as India folded for 272. Australia wanted to score quickly, and Ponting pitched in with a 96-ball 60* to set India 500 to win. Dravid got 25 in his final Test innings as India were bowled out 298 runs short.
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