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Anand Vasu at Ahmedabad
October 26, 2006
After India lost a close game to West Indies and their hopes of staying alive in this Champions Trophy hung on a rather slender thread, Rahul Dravid was candid enough to admit that the closeness of the result - West Indies won by three wickets with two balls to spare - flattered his team. "In the end it wasn't as close as it probably looked," he said. "I think we worked hard towards the end to make it close.
"They always had wickets in hand, so we had our backs to the wall. But we thought we could drag it as far as possible as they'd have to play a few big shots under pressure against the wet ball, and we'd they could connect or not," he said. "But the guys worked hard. I think 224, probably in the final analysis, was about 25-30 runs less than what we should have got. I don't think we are playing as well as we can play."
Dravid said that the period in middle of the Indian batting where both Yuvraj and he were dismissed in the space of a few balls, was a critical point in the game. "I think in the 30-31st over when we lost two wickets, was critical," he said. "At 130-3 with 20 overs to go we were in a very good position. Two set batsmen, I think that over from Bradshaw when Yuvraj got out and I got run out, that's where I feel was the turning point in terms of our batting."
India's top-order has now failed consistently pretty much all season, and Dravid admitted that the brittleness of the batting was a concern. "It is a concern and we need to play better. We need to get runs, especially on slow wickets, we need to adjust and adapt and play differently," he said. "Today I thought we were getting things right but unfortunately we had that period of play when we lost two quick wickets. The partnership between Yuvraj and I came in quick time and we were pretty much in control of the game at that stage. It was disappointing that none of the top four-five batsmen could go on to get a 70-80."
Dravid also said that the dew did not play as much of a role as it did the other night when South Africa played Sri Lanka. "There was a bit of dew but not as much as apparently as the other game. I thought Viru bowled really well," he said. "Harbhajan bowled beautifully. That was the time we came back into the game. They got off to a flying start which put us under a bit pressure but we came back really well through the spinners and I thought Munaf bowled a great first spell." The think-tank played RP Singh in place of Ramesh Powar with the dew in mind, as the spinners struggle to grip the wet ball, but that was a ploy that did not come off. "We went in with an extra seamer but RP didn't have a great game," said Dravid. "But the support spinners did a great job."
Looking forward to the do-or-die battle against Australia in Mohali, Dravid said it was simply a matter of executing the plans they had in mind. "I think the guys know what they have to do. At the end of the day it is about putting the runs on the board and performing," he said. "There are only so many instructions we can give and so many net practices that we can do. In the end of the day it is about going out there and performing and we hope we get enough players to perform in what is a do-or-die game for us."
Dravid also would not blame Ajit Agarkar for the short, wide ball that Marlon Samuels slashed away to hit the winning runs. "I don't think Ajit was trying to bowl a short one, he was trying to hit the deck and trying to bowl wicket to wicket," he said. "It didn't come out right from his hand. I think we could have bowled a bit fuller, as Munaf showed."
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