'The game ran away from us in the last hour' - Dravid
Despite having a harrowing day in the field, with Pakistan scoring at more than four an over, Rahul Dravid has defended his decision to play five specialist bowlers, stating that it was their best chance to get 20 wickets and win a Test match. He added that Sourav Ganguly had been "unlucky to miss out", and hoped that India could reprise their heroics at Adelaide in 2003, when they conceded more than 400 runs on the first day but still ended up winning the game.
"It's very difficult to drop someone like Sourav," said Dravid at the end of a tough day. "Considering his experience and considering what a good player he is. We picked the right combination, one that will give us the best chance to win this Test. We've got to try and win Test matches, irrespective of the conditions and we need to look at the best combination to win it. We hadn't bowled very well in the last match and decided to strengthen the attack with five specialist bowlers.
We thought we needed five bowlers to get us 20 wickets and to have a serious chance to win it. It would give us a chance to rotate our bowlers, keep them fresh. We struggled a bit in Lahore in that aspect, and with a long season coming up we need to keep all our bowlers fit and going. It was a tough decision to make and Sourav is unlucky to miss out."
Dravid felt that India had done well in the first two sessions of the day and said they had failed to seize the opportunity when two quick wickets pulled them back into the game. "Having lost the toss, at 216 for 4 we were in control of the game. But they had a very good partnership, especially the last hour when they played positively. I thought the game ran away from us in the last hour. Until then we had had a good day. "
While admitting that he had been "disappointed" with the surface, he was confident that India could still pull things back. "It still looks a good batting wicket," he continued. "We'll need to bowl well tomorrow and obviously try and back it up with the sort of batting we put up in the last game. We've won a game after conceding 400 in one day and all is not lost. They have the advantage but there's a long way to go. If we can bat well in the first innings, things will change. One or two more wickets today would have made a difference. We could have done better than that, especially in the last hour. You also got to understand that you don't often start of Test matches on such a dead wicket. "
There was a word of consolation for Irfan Pathan - "He's only 21 or 22 years old. He'll sure learn" - but he hailed the debut performance of Rudra Pratap Singh. "There wasn't much in the track, the ball didn't swing much, but he got a wicket early on. RP Singh bowled with a lot of energy." He was particularly elated with Yuvraj's catch, a moment of brilliance when India were under pressure, and firmly said it was one of the best he had seen.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo