Rahul Dravid was probably one of the last classical Test match batsmen. His progress into the national side may have been steady and methodical rather than meteoric, but once there, Dravid established himself at the vanguard of a new, defiant generation that were no longer easybeats away from home. Armed with an orthodox technique drilled into him by Keki Tarapore, he became the cement that held the foundations firm while the flair players expressed themselves. Yet, for a man quickly stereotyped as one-paced and one-dimensional, he too could stroke the ball around when the mood struck him.
Never a natural athlete, he compensated with sheer hard work and powers of concentration that were almost yogic. At Adelaide in 2003, when India won a Test in Australia for the first time in a generation, he batted 835 minutes over two innings. A few months later, he was at the crease more than 12 hours for the 270 that clinched India's first series win in Pakistan. Initially seen as a liability in the one-day arena, he retooled his game over the years to become an adept middle-order finisher. The heaves and swipes didn't come naturally, but by the time the selectors eased him aside in early 2008, he had more than 10,000 runs to his name in the 50-over game. There had also been a lengthy phase where he donned the wicketkeeping gloves, helping the team to find a balance that was crucial in the run to the World Cup final in 2003.
However, it's his Test exploits that he will be most remembered for. After impressing in a Lord's debut where he was eclipsed by Sourav Ganguly, Dravid's breakthrough innings arrived at the Wanderers a few months later, against a South African attack accustomed to bullying visitors. A brief slump followed, but he emerged from that with perhaps one of the most famous supporting acts of all, to VVS Laxman in an Eden Gardens Test that rejuvenated Indian cricket. The half decade that followed was a golden one with the bat, as tours of England and Australia realised more than 600 runs.
A two-year stint as captain, following Ganguly's axing, was less successful, though he did lead the side to series victories in England and the West Indies for the first time in a generation. Just when it seemed his best was behind him, Dravid showed his class once again on the tour to England in 2011. In a series in which India were completely outplayed and none of their other batsmen scored more than 275 runs in the Tests, Dravid amassed 461, including three hundreds, two of them when opening the innings against a high-quality pace attack. However, that was followed by a poor series in Australia, which turned out to be his last, as he announced his retirement soon after returning to India.
Dravid's immense levels of concentration also came in handy when he was standing in the slips. Most of his catches were taken in that cordon as he overtook Mark Waugh to become the most successful slip catcher in history.