India v South Africa, 5th ODI, Mumbai November 28, 2005

'We learnt a lot playing against them' - Dravid



Yuvraj Singh's power-packed 49 was the game's 'turning point' © Getty Images

Rahul Dravid hailed his side for fighting back from a 2-1 deficit, and had no doubt that Yuvraj Singh's power-packed 49 had been the "turning point" of the game. While adding that the Indian one-day side had taken a step forward in their back-to-back series against Sri Lanka and South Africa, Dravid felt that infusion of young blood had been a big factor.

"We've played some really good cricket in the last few weeks," said Dravid, "and it's a satisfying feeling that we could win this game and square the series. All our bowlers bowled beautifully today and the manner in which the spinners responded was particularly impressive. Though these performances have given us a lot of confidence and hope, we're not getting carried away and are making sure we have the long-term plans in mind."

Saying that his decision at the toss was an "obvious one", Dravid was quick to point out that he had expected the dew to play a major role later in the game. "I walked into the ground at eight `o clock last night and saw there was a lot of dew there. But surprisingly there was no dew at all today. It was a good cricket wicket with bounce and pace throughout. South Africa have one of the better pace attacks in world cricket and we learnt a lot playing against them in this series."

While adding a good word about the Mumbai crowd, Dravid said that the team had endured a tough week in the lead-up to the game. "The ways the boys responded here, in all aspects, is a tribute to them. The crowds have been nice to us in all venues, with the exception of one city, and it's understandably that crowds will not support us when we play badly. The Indian public deserves a good cricket team and expects us to always perform. I'm glad we fought back well today."

Dravid also gushed about the athletic fielding displays that India had put up in this series, with today's effort standing out among the lot. "The fielding has been inspired and brilliant throughout," he continued, "and with players like Yuvraj and Mohammad Kaif around, it is not difficult to inspire the others. Win or lose, our main aim was to go out there, enjoy ourselves and have some fun. The addition of fresh players in the side has certainly helped in that regard."

Coming in at 83 for 3, with the South African medium-pacers posing problems, Yuvraj wrenched the game away with some scintillating strokeplay and was elated after receiving his first Man-of-the-Series award. "Every series can't be a good one and one is bound to have a bad run," he said when probed about his failures in the past. "Since my 79 against Sri Lanka, I have been batting well. I got a century and a half-century under pressure in this series. I'm happy I am able to contribute in pressure situations."

Dravid was confident that it was just a matter of time before both Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag came up with the big knock. "I didn't see much of his innings but the boys told me that Sehwag played a fine knock before getting a 50-50 call. Now he's back to his preferred form of Test cricket and I'm sure he'll get it right there. Sachin has looked good as well. He will be fine in the Tests."

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo