Prolific Indian batsman Rahul Dravid has announced his retirement from international and domestic first-class cricket with immediate effect, bringing down the curtain on an illustrious career.
The 39-year-old made his debut in the Lord's Test against England in 1996, scoring 95, going on to represent India more than 500 times and scoring more Test runs than any other player, save for compatriot Sachin Tendulkar.
Nicnamed 'The Wall', in 163 Tests for India (as well as one for the ICC World XI), he amassed 13,288 runs with 36 centuries.
"It has been 16 years since I first played a Test match for India, and I feel it's time for me to move on," Dravid said.
"Once I was like every other boy in India, with a dream of playing for my country. Yet, I could never have imagined a journey so long and so fulfilling. I have had a wonderful time, but now it is time for a new generation of young players to make their own history and take the Indian cricket team even further."
Versatile enough to open the batting or drop down the order when required, he locked down the position at number three for several years, blunting opposition attacks with his disciplined defence and then taking advantage with graceful strokeplay.
Some of his finest achievements include an innings of 180 in Kolkata against Australia in 2001 which helped his side win a Test having been asked to follow on, a prolific run of form in England, both in 2002 and 2011, and a memorable innings of 270 against Pakistan in 2004.
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He also had a spell as Indian captain, kept wicket on several occasions in ODIs and was a reliable and brilliant slip fielder, claiming 210 Test catches - a world record.
He played 340 ODI matches for India, one for the Asian Cricket Council XI and three for the ICC World XI, scoring 10.768 runs and hitting 12 centuries.
In 2007, he declared that, along with Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar, he would not be playing Twenty20 International cricket but following an injury crisis, and his success in the Indian Premier League, he made a belated T20I debut against England last year at Old Trafford.
In his one and only game, he hit 31 in 21 balls before England scored a victory. During that tour, he was by far and away India's best batsmen, scoring three excellent centuries during the Test series before England emerged triumphant by a scoreline of 4-0.
The same scoreline was then meted out to India by Australia and during a difficult tour, Dravid struggled for runs. He hit 198 at an average of 24.25 with a solitary half-century to show for his efforts.
"My approach to cricket has been reasonably simple: it was about giving everything to the team, it was about playing with dignity, and it was about upholding the spirit of the game," he added.
"I hope I have done some of that. I have failed at times, but I have never stopped trying. It is why I leave with sadness but also with pride."
He will continue to play in the Indian Premier League for the Rajasthan Royals.
© Cricket World 2012