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Cricket fraternity pays rich tribute to Dravid

 NEW DELHI, March 9 (PTI): The cricket fraternity paid rich tributes to Rahul Dravid, who today retired from domestic as well as Test matches, describing him as a “perfectionist” and next only to Sachin Tendulkar in greatness in his generation.

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly said Dravid’s determination, technique and commitment towards the game was special.

“I am not surprised at this decision. I think it’s a mixture of everything including the team’s performance. He was a perfectionist. He used always strive for perfection. His determination, technique and commitment towards the game was something special,” Ganguly said of his former team-mate.

“It’s really tough to become another Rahul Dravid. It will not happen overnight. It has taken him long to get here. One has to go through a lot of hardships and commitment,” he said.

“It’s always tough for one in any profession to announce his retirement. It feels sad, but sport is time-oriented. Many greats have come and gone, the likes of Pele and Diego Maradona have quit. Roger Federer will go one day. Rahul Dravid did it today. I feel in cricket you can play a little longer,” the lef-handed batsman insisted. Legendary Sunil Gavaskar said Dravid’s decision to bid adieu to the game has left a big hole in Indian cricket.

“It will be a big hole to fill. It was a decision in the pipeline for some time, because once a player gets 35-36, talks of leaving the game are at the back of his mind, so really didn’t come as a surprise,” he said.

“We always think, not only in cricket but in different walks of life, it will be difficult to replace somebody. While obviously the style will be very different, there will be younger players coming,” Gavaskar said.

“The results will not be immediate but they will be soon enough. Indian cricket fans will have some new hero to look up to, some new idol to cheer. That is the nature of the sport,” he further added.

Describing Dravid as a “great motivator”, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh said, “Day before yesterday he called me to inform about his decision. I wished him all the best. Everyone knows he is a legend of the game.

“He has been a great motivator and we all looked up to him in the manner he prepares for each and every Test match. It was a lesson for all of us.”

Former captain Ajit Wadekar said Dravid was like “Great Wall of China for the India team”.

“Rahul was like the Great Wall of China for the Indian team and it cannot be created again. He has scored the highest number of runs after Sachin and also played the highest number of Test matches after Sachin. It’s impossible to have another Dravid and impossible to fill up the void,” he said.

Another former captain Nari Contractor said, “Like Vijay Merchant, Vijay Hazare and Sunil (Gavaskar) have gone down in history, like Sachin (Tendulkar) will go down in history (when he calls it a day), so too will Rahul go down as among the very best India has produced.

Former India coach Anshuman Gaekwad applauded Dravid’s decesion step down and make way for the youngsters.

“He was very disciplined and focused. I never told him he needs to work hard on batting or physical fitness. He was a self-made cricketer. He was very confident. He knew exactly what he needs to be doing even in adverse condition. He is a role model for any youngster. Leaving aside Sachin Tendulkar, if you want to emulate, it has to be Rahul Dravid,” he added.

International cricketers also paid rich tribute to Dravid on micro-blogging site, twitter.

India opener Virender Sehwag said Dravid would always be missed.

“Jam it was a pleasure & privilege to have played with u and ur presence in the dressing room always added to our confidence. Will miss u lots,” twitted Sehwag.

England batsman Kevin Pietersen termed Dravid as a “Legend” and said that he would be missed on the cricket field.

“Rahul Dravid-LEGEND!! Plain & simple..Congrats on an incredible career!! India WILL miss thewall..,” wrote Pietersen.

Former England skipper Michael Vaughan twitted: “Rahul Dravid retires.. The worlds most respected cricketer over the last 20 yrs.. LEGEND..”

Heaping praise on Dravid, West Indian cricketer Chris Gayle wrote on his twitter account: “Congrats on a Fantastic, Superb International Career! The Great Legend Rahul Dravid !!The wall will be miss!!” South Africa one-day captain AB de Villiers said Dravid is a fantastic person and cricketer.

“Congrats to Rahul Dravid on an amazing career! You will be missed. Fantastic person and Cricketer! India’s wall,” write De Villiers. “Extremely emotional to see my hero bid goodbye to cricket. Thank You for the memories. Words fail me. You’re a legend. respect,” tweeted Chopra.

Indian tennis legend Mahesh Bhupathi appreciated Dravid’s discipline and hard work. “Congratulations Rahul Dravid. Champion on and off the field, showed us all that sky is the limit with hard work, patience and discipline...,” wrote Bhupathi.

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