How Rahul Dravid helped Kevin Pietersen play spin better

Sakal Times Sports Desk
Monday, 3 August 2020

Their careers coincided in the mid-2000s when both were among the key players of their respective sides. The mention of both of them together takes us to the early tumultuous days of Royal Challengers Bangalore's (RCB). 

Rahul Dravid and Kevin Pietersen were two contrasting yet supremely effective batsmen of their times. Their careers coincided in the mid-2000s when both were among the key players of their respective sides. The mention of both of them together takes us to the early tumultuous days of Royal Challengers Bangalore's (RCB). 

In just over a month after Rahul Dravid quit India captaincy, he lost his place from the ODI side. The Indian Premier League (IPL) was around the corner, and he was RCB's icon player in the first season. He led them in a disappointing 2008 season. In 2009, Dravid was sacked as the captain, and the newly signed England star Pietersen (KP) was appointed the skipper. The exciting English cricketer was signed for a record US$ 1.55 million by the Bengaluru franchise. RCB didn't really enjoy a lot of success under him.

However, there's another Dravid-KP story, and that has happy notes attached to it. The batting greats bonded well during their IPL days and after KP's struggles against spin bowling in England's 2010 series against Bangladesh, he reached out to Dravid for help.

"Dravid wrote me the most beautiful email, explaining the art of playing spin and ever since then it was a whole new world. The key point was looking for the length as soon as the ball was delivered - wait for the spinner and make your decision," Pietersen said on Sky Sports.

Earlier in his autobiography, KP had mentioned about the Dravid email.

"One good practice is to bat against Swann and Monty without pads or with just knee pads (maybe not a day before a game!). When you have no pads it will force you, sometimes painfully, to get the bat forward of the pads and will force you to watch the ball," read a part of Dravid's mail to Pietersen.

"Also, the leg will be less keen to push out without any protection. My coach would tell me you should never need pads to play spin!! Watch the ball and trust yourself. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't play spin, I have seen you and you can!"

Dravid retired in early 2012. Later that year, England toured India and stunned the cricket world. Losing the first Test at Ahmedabad, the English side came back strong in Mumbai and Kolkata to clinch the four-Test series 2-1. In doing so, not only did they breach India's fort and defended the Pataudi Trophy but also registered their first series victory in India in 28 years. 

Dravid's advice did help KP as his counter-attacking 186 at spinning wicket in Mumbai changed the course for England in the series. He was excellent against the Indian spin-attack that mainly comprised Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha. He finished the series with 338 runs with three fifty-plus scores in seven innings.

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