Mr. Perfectionist, from start to finish
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A day after announcing his Test retirement, Rahul Dravid joined his Rajasthan Royals team mates at a six-day pre-season camp at the World Cricket Academy's Institute of Sports, in the outskirts of Nagpur. By now, it had become one of Dravid's regular haunts. From the time he had returned from the Test tour of Australia two months ago, Dravid had been visiting on and off to train for the IPL.
"One day he would ask only for left-arm spinners and get them to bowl over the wicket. The next day they would bowl around the wicket to him, and he would do the same," says Zubin Bharucha, technical director, Rajasthan Royals. "Rahul, being Rahul, wanted to experiment with everything. He would ask for outswing bowlers one day, then bowlers who would bowl slower ones from the back of their hand, and so on."
Siddharth Trivedi must have bowled his fair share of deliveries to Dravid during those pre-season camps. "He would start at nine in the morning and bat for the entire day," says the Royals seamer. "He would keep talking to us, asking us if there was any mistake we could spot in his batting."
Beginning of the end
Dravid, 39, wasn't even in the final chapter of his career. This was the start of the epilogue. And yet, one of the foremost Test batsmen of his era was looking to prove to himself that he could thrive as a batsman in the IPL, and fill the voluminous captaincy boots of Shane Warne.
Former India mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton, who is now employed with the Pune Warriors, isn't surprised that Dravid was preparing as meticulously as ever even after his international retirement. "Having worked very closely with Rahul and having seen him from close quarters, I can tell you that he is a consummate professional. There are no short-cuts involved with his cricket," says Upton.
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