Mumbai: On March 9, 1996, India beat Pakistan in the World Cup quarter-final in Bangalore. The match itself was memorable for a number of reasons but those who were at the ground, especially those in the North Stand, will never forget a giant banner that hung from one of the balconies. On it were painted two words in an extra-large font: "Where's Dravid?"
It was no secret that a number of Bangaloreans felt hard done by when Dravid, one of the most consistent batsmen in the domestic circuit, was left out of the World Cup squad. Their demands were met immediately after the tournament: Dravid was selected for a tri-series in Singapore and went on to make his Test debut later that year.
Now life has come a full circle. Exactly 16 years later, on another March 9, in the same Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, Dravid announced his retirement from Tests and first-class cricket. After all these years, the 'Where's Dravid?' banner can now again take its place in the balcony, reminding us all of the gaping void.
During these 16 years, Bangalore never got to see the best of Dravid. They watched him score just three fifties in the eight Tests and eight ODIs at the venue. It's hard to think of any other great batsman not managing an international hundred on his home ground. Last season, he moved from the local IPL team (the Royal Challengers) to play for the Rajasthan Royals.
Several cities lay claim to Dravid: he was born in Indore, is married to a lady from Nagpur and played plenty of club cricket in Chennai (or Madras as it was then). And soon he will play his IPL home games in Jaipur. Some say his Marathi is more fluent than his Kannada.
But he belongs in Bangalore. Walk a few minutes from the Chinnaswamy Stadium and you will reach his school (St Joseph's Boys' High School). Walk a little more and you'll find his college (St Joseph's College of Commerce).
It's the city where he learnt from Keki Tarapore, his junior coach and mentor, and one where he made mountains of runs for the state side. And he produced match-winning innings in two of Karnataka's Ranji Trophy triumphs.
And it was only fitting that he finished in Bangalore. He spoke of the talent in the Karnataka side and said he didn't want to block anyone's path by playing one more season of domestic cricket. It won't be unreasonable to expect him to play a big role in cricket development in the state -- either as an administrator or as a coach -- in the near future. And Bangalore's cricketers will be fortunate for it.
So how can Bangalore commemorate him? What is the Dravid equivalent of an Anil Kumble Circle? Some have joked that, given his nickname, he should lend his name to the Chinnaswamy Stadium's walls.