Rahul Dravid will make his international T20 debut against England on Wednesday.
New Delhi: Jim Laker's 19 wickets in one Test is a perpetual cricket record and on Wednesday India's Rahul Dravid may follow suit with a debut and retirement from Twenty20 internationals (T20I) on the same day.
India's struggling batting dwindled further on the eve of their only Twenty20 game against England, when a concussed Gautam Gambhir was ruled out. And with just seven fit batsmen available, Dravid's T20I debut is imminent.
But that's only one part of the news. The other half is that in all probability it will also be Dravid's last T20I, as the 38-year-old debutant is expected to retire from the format on the same day.
Dravid, a Test specialist who ironically has scored India's second fastest ODI fifty, would have never expected to play T20s and ODIs on the England tour. But 'The Wall' will stand tall to answer the call of duty, with the squad falling by the wayside due to injuries.
The T20 swansong will precede Dravid's decision to retire from ODIs after the series against England. He announced that decision on the same day selectors surprised him with an ODI call-up.
"In the short term, I am committed because now I have been picked for the series, but in the long term, I think it is best for me and Indian cricket that I focus on Test cricket," Dravid had said then.
Dravid, though never part of India's T20 setup, has featured in all four editions of the cash-rich Indian Premier League. So to say he is completely alien to the design won't be appropriate. And he gave a glimpse of that in the warm-up game against Leicestershire, where he scored 29 off 31 balls.
But at the age of 38, even if he plays a swashbuckling innings on Wednesday, it will be wrong to judge that India missed out by sidelining Dravid for so long. By doing that, those who praised the Fab Four's decision to leave T20 to youngsters will appear foolhardy.
Rather a honest admission will be that 'Team Man' Dravid is currently indispensable for India in Test cricket. Debut and retirement on the same day may be unique, but not something any cricketer cherishes. Dravid is doing this for India, like he has done a number of times.