New Delhi : Indian cricket greats, including star batsman Sachin Tendulkar, have richly praised Rahul Dravid as he prepares to play the final one-day game of his illustrious career.
Tendulkar called Dravid the "unsung hero of the Indian team" and said his value was reflected by the sheer amount of runs he has scored.
The 38-year-old Dravid, who has amassed 10,820 runs in 343 one-dayers, will play his last game on Friday in Cardiff against England. He announced his retirement before the start of the series after having been overlooked for limited-overs games for most of the past two years.
Former captains Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble also praised Dravid's contribution in one-dayers.
"He has had a fabulous career as a one-day player and has contributed so much to Indian cricket," Tendulkar told a national daily on Friday. "I have no doubt that he is and will continue to be a role model for all of us."
Tendulkar said Dravid's natural game was not suited for the quick scoring of one-dayers, but had worked hard to improve and excelled in his "finishing role."
"He may not give you a quick start, but he will surely make his innings count in terms of time spent at the crease. You need such players in the team, and he was the best man for the job," he added.
Tendulkar also praised Dravid for adjusting according to the team's needs and helping the team gain depth in batting by agreeing to keep wickets.
"He is the perfect team man; when he was asked to keep wickets we all knew that he will do well because he was initially a wicketkeeper. It later helped him, and came as a big help to all of us in the Indian team during the 2003 World Cup."
Ganguly said Indian cricket should be "thankful to Rahul" for being flexible.
"Rahul has a had a checkered one-day career and it took a new turn once he decided to keep wickets in 2002," Ganguly wrote in his column in Hindustan Times. "His decision was absolutely for the team as it helped reorganize the middle-order and add more depth to it."
Kumble, who was Dravid's senior while playing for Karnataka in domestic cricket, called him an "exceptional team player" who was unfazed by criticism.
"I consider it a privilege to have played alongside him through most of my career," he wrote in Hindustan Times. "His contribution as a team player and mentor can't be quantified, and that will certainly be missed going forward."
Dravid, who played his solitary Twenty20 international during the ongoing tour of England, will continue to play in test cricket.
He has scored 12,775 runs in tests, which is the second highest aggregate in history behind Tendulkar (14,965). He has slammed 35 centuries and is fourth on the list of century-makers behind Tendulkar (51), South African allrounder Jacques Kallis (40) and former Australia captain Ricky Ponting (39).