On June 20, 1996, during a chilly morning at Lord's - the Mecca of cricket - the cricket world witness a classy debut innings from a young batsman named Rahul Sharad Dravid. The slender batsman from Karnataka scored a fine 95 against England, and though he had missed a century in his first innings for India he had announced his arrival at the highest level.
Dravid, who announced his retirement in Bangalore today, will go down in history as one of the greatest batsmen ever to have played the game. In discussions of batsmen that teams could always rely on, Dravid's name will feature at the top the list.
Most famously known as 'The Wall' because of his solid defence and resolute batting style, Dravid is one of those batsmen who always came to the crease with a price tag on his wicket. Coming to bat at No. 3, he was one of the few Indian batsmen who could absorb the pressure well in any circumstances. He so often the architect of India's total - he scored roughly 35 per cent of the total runs India scored in the Test matches he played - and did so with steadfast resoluteness.
Dravid was not as dominant as Virender Sehwag or Sachin Tendulkar but the way he handled pressure was key for the other batsmen to carry on with their playing style.
Dravid's impeccable technique was central to him scaling great heights in Test and ODI cricket. The key to being a successful batsman is a watertight technique, and few could match Dravid in this regard. Rarely did he give his wicket away, and the more pressure heaped on him the stronger his resolve grew. His ability to frustrate the opposition through defence and judgement in which balls to play and which to leave was phenomenal.
Dravid's early years were a struggle to convince the powers that be that he could score in ODI cricket. With a reputation of a defensive batsman, he was dropped from the ODI team, but went back to the domestic scene and honed his game to adapt. The result was a consistent run in ODI cricket, beginning with 1999 World Cup in which he was the top run-getter, and he went on to cement his place in the ODI team. Though he remained the unsung hero of Indian cricket, according to many pundits and critics he is India's greatest Test batsman. Some have even gone to the extent of saying that he was better Tendulkar.
Like every other cricketer, Dravid had his low points as well. In particular, the captaincy was a difficult phase. The start was encouraging, with a famous win the West Indies in 2006, but matters came to a head following India's early exit from the 2007 World Cup. This was followed by the resignation of the coach Greg Chappell, though Dravid stayed on as captain to lead India to a superb Test series win in England, before stepping down and handing the baton to MS Dhoni.
Dravid's Test career stands at 164 Tests, from which he scored 13,288 runs at an average of 52.31, with 36 centuries and 63 fifties. In 344 one-day internationals he amassed 10,889 runs - the seventh highest of all time - at 39.16, with 12 hundreds and 83 fifties. Dravid captained India in 25 Tests, winning eight, losing six and drawing 11.
Dravid's name will always feature near the top of the list of all-time greats. His glorious off-drives, dazzling cuts and ferocious pulls will remain in the memory forever.