Wellington:Rahul Dravid scaled another lofty peak in his illustrious career when he created the world record for the most number of Test catches by a fielder on Monday.
Levelled with Mark Waugh's 181 (128 Tests) before going into the match, Dravid pulled ahead in his 134th match when he gobbled up Tim McIntosh at third slip off Zaheer Khan on day four of the third Test against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve.
Having snared Nasser Hussain off Javagal Srinath to open his 'catch' account in his debut Test at Lord's, Dravid is now clearly ahead of Ricky Ponting (148 in 131 Tests), Jacques Kallis (147 in 131) and Mahela Jayawardene (142 in 102) among current players.
The milestone had been on his mind for quite a while and when he achieved it, he showed rare emotion by planting a kiss on the cherry. The accomplishment should possibly help to ease his frustration at not scoring a hundred on this tour.
"The way I was batting, I should have scored a hundred in each of the Tests," said Dravid, ruing his dismissals in the third Test against New Zealand.
He carved scores of 66, 8 not out, 83, 62, 35 and 60, but failed to convert those four half centuries into hundreds, falling once to a sharp in-cutter at Hamilton, a dubious leg before decision at Napier and poor shots in the rest.
"Taking catches has sort of given me probably as much pleasure as scoring runs. It is being part of someone else's success as a catcher. That has been a thrilling experience for me. To have taken so many catches is also a reflection of the quality of attack that I have been lucky to have played with in my 12-13 year career," Dravid had said when he had drawn abreast with Mark Waugh in the first Test at Hamilton.
"I have been lucky to have played with some very good bowlers who have created the opportunities to take catches. I have taken a number a catches of the bowling of (Prasad), Zaheer, Anil (Kumble) and Harbhajan (Singh)."
Looking back, Dravid said it was difficult to pick the best catch.
"It is a hard call. You look at these catches and you think of them in terms of the context of the game and how they helped the team win. I took Damien Martyn in the Adelaide Test off Sachin's bowling and we went on to win the Test match. It was a critical phase.
"Another one I can remember is that of Mark Waugh at backward short-leg in the Chennai Test of that great series in 2001 off Harbhajan's bowling. These two are the ones that probably stand out in my memory," he said.
Top 10 catchers in Tests
Rahul Dravid - India - 1996-2009 - 134 matches - 182 catches
Mark Waugh - Australia - 1991-2002 - 128 matches - 181 catches
Stephen Fleming - New Zealand - 1994-2008 - 111 matches - 171 catches
Brian Lara - West Indies - 1990-2006 - 131 matches - 164 catches
Mark Taylor - Australia - 1989-1999 - 104 matches - 157 catches
Allan Border - Australia - 1978-1994 - 156 matches - 156 catches
Ricky Ponting - Australia - 1995-2009 - 131 matches - 148 catches
Jacques Kallis - South Africa - 1995-2009 - 131 matches - 147 catches
Mahela Jayawardene - Sri Lanka - 1997-2009 - 102 matches - 142 catches
Matthew Hayden - Australia - 1994-2009 - 103 matches - 128 catches