Pakistan v India, 2nd Test, Lahore, 4th day April 8, 2004

'Pakistan played better cricket' - Dravid

Anand Vasu and Osman Samiuddin in Lahore

Rahul Dravid appeared relaxed and cheery despite India's nine-wicket loss in the second Test. His counterpart, Inzamam-ul-Haq, was equally candid in the post-match press conference.

Pakistan were deserving winners, said Rahul Dravid © AFP
Rahul Dravid
On the reasons for the defeat
They [Pakistan] played well over three-and-a-half days. They played better cricket than us. It is as simple as that.

On what the team could have done better
You can look back upon [a lot of areas] and do [things] differently. I wish we had batted better, got the tail out quicker, but the toss is not the only reason. We didn't bat well enough in the first session, and as you saw, the wicket was up-and-down towards the end. It would have been interesting if either team was chasing 250 on the last day. In hindsight we could have done it differently. If I knew that we would be four down at lunch, we would have done things differently. But we don't have the benefit of hindsight.

On whether his run-out in the second innings was the turning point
One run-out cannot be the turning point. It is the team that plays better that wins, and they [Pakistan] were deserving winners.

On not making runs as captain
I was looking forward to this Test. But I played a poor shot [in the first innings]. I was disappointed personally, and hopefully, I will have the opportunity to correct this in Rawalpindi. And make some runs on this tour.

On Pakistan's tail wagging in the first innings
In the first innings we could have done with 75 more runs. And we could have restricted them to less. We needed 150 runs from somewhere. Shoaib Akhtar showed the character to stay at the wicket, something that is not in his nature. Credit to him.

On whether mental fatigue led to a rare occasion when India's batting failed in both innings of a Test
There was no mental fatigue, at least I hope not. We were all very keen and excited to play well here. It's very hard to point out exact reasons why we failed twice. We know we are most dangerous when we bat well and put runs on the board.

On whether umpiring decisions going against India made a difference
We were better in Multan, they were better than us here, and in both games the better team won. Umpiring is part and parcel of the game. I believe that both teams should accept what they get in terms of umpiring.

On the fact that India has won the first Test of a series and then immediately lost the next in away series
We definitely think that we have not [handled] this aspect well. We have to find solutions to that problem. I don't think complacency was a factor. It is not as if we did not try hard enough. That is something we can rule out. We have changed a lot of things over the last two-and-a-half years and hopefully this is something we can change.

On the positives India can take out of this match
Yuvraj [Singh] was brilliant. He was batting under pressure and did brilliantly for someone who is playing only his third Test. [Irfan] Pathan and [Lakshmipathy] Balaji showed great heart on what became a flat wicket on the second and third days. They ran in hard consistently. Viru [Virender Sehwag] has been fantastic and Parthiv's attitude towards the end showed guts and character. I couldn't have asked for more.

On Umar Gul's spell in the first innings
I admit [Umar] Gul was a surprise package, an inspired selection. Hats off to the young kid. He did well to put the ball in the right areas. He broke the back of our batting and was deservedly the Man of the Match.

On the fact that India won comprehensively in Multan and that Pakistan also completed their win with plenty of time to spare
It has been an evenly contested series. Neither team has had a clear advantage. Whoever executes their plans better is going to win. It will be the same in Rawalpindi.

On coming back from defeat
It's disappointing to lose - personally and as a team. I don't deny that. But character is how you pick yourself up and come back. It does hurt but you have to look ahead and stay positive.

On whether the deciding Test would be more intense and competitive
It has been intense and competitive right through. It can't get any more intense than it already has. Rawalpindi is an important game, the last of this tour.

On whether the team was affected by speculation about who would be dropped if Yuvraj Singh was to be included in the third Test
It did not affect the side. That's the beauty of the game. In this part of the world all sorts of things are discussed, in board-rooms and living-rooms, but there was no talk about this in the dressing-room.

Shoaib Akhtar was obviously down after Multan but he is a human being, said Inzamam © AFP

On the criticism after Multan
This was a very good comeback by our team after what happened at Multan and it was a good answer to the criticism. The boys were very demoralized after the defeat but the criticism in the press was overboard. I was very disappointed by a lot of remarks from ex-Pakistani players and greats. I expected them to try and lift our team after what had happened but they did the exact opposite and I wasn't very happy with that.

On India batting first
I wasn't that surprised - there was some support for the bowlers and I would've bowled anyway had we won the toss. There was something in it for the first few hours.

On Rawalpindi
It's the decider and it is a crucial game. We have to work even harder for that match. There are still some weaknesses in the team. We know that but they will have to be ironed out for the next game. I will not take these lightly at all, and we intend to work even harder now.

On Javed Miandad's hints at retirement following the criticism
The criticism has been intense and uncalled for. I feel similar to Javed that if it continues then it will become difficult for me to carry on as well. If I had said something like this following Multan, then people would have said that I have lost. I am saying this now, after a victory, because I want to make it clear that it is difficult to work under this amount of pressure. Criticism is okay but it has to be positive and constructive.

On the new players and selection for the next Test
We will have to see what happens in the next few days. There are still injury concerns, but these players all played extremely well. We will decide on their status closer to the next game.

On the failure of the India batting
We know India has a very strong batting line-up and that is why it was so important to take such a big lead. Our bowlers then bowled very well, to a good line and length and it worked. A failure in one match doesn't mean that their batting isn't strong, but our bowlers are also confident now for the next game. We will have to work even harder for the next game.

On the pressures of captaincy
Captaincy is about handling pressure, but I would argue that international cricket is itself mainly about how you handle the pressure.

On confidence
The boys were obviously down after the first game but they now have their confidence back. It will spur them to work even harder for the next match.

On the lack of crowds
I think the one-day series played a part as it was held before the Test matches. Also, the security and all its concerns probably helped to keep a few people away, but with a win now, hopefully, more people will turn up for the next game.

On Shoaib Akhtar
There was no question of him not wanting to play this Test. He was obviously down after Multan but he is a human being. Like everyone else he goes through bad patches, he performs sometimes and sometimes he doesn't. He can still bowl better than he did today although his rhythm is coming back. Hopefully he will be in full flow in the next Test.

On the fielding
We need to improve our fielding still. It was okay but it can get better. And no, I don't think we need a coach for it.

On the turning point in the game
Rahul Dravid's run out in the second innings.

On his own form and Sachin's
My own form is good at the moment and I hope to continue it. Sachin is a big player and he will perform no doubt. But if he has another match like he did here then I won't mind.

On the tiff with Kumble
We spent so much time on the field together I just thought we should have a chat. It was nothing special.

On the overall progress of the team
The entire squad has been working hard and they have done well. There are some areas that we need to work on and we are still learning as a team. But there is a picture emerging of a team now and a group of players who, if they continue to work hard, will be of benefit to the team.