India v England, 7th ODI, Indore

Dravid praises battling India

Dileep Premachandran in Indore

April 15, 2006

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A job well done: Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh with the trophy © Getty Images
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Rahul Dravid expressed his satisfaction at another perfectly-executed run chase, but added that he wouldn't tolerate any complacency in the lead-up to next year's World Cup.

He praised the spirit and attitude of his young team, but added that they were far from being the finished article. "It was a very good way to finish," he said, "chasing down 290 the way that we did. We played very well right through the series, and it's satisfying to take it so convincingly. To win with such a young batting order, and one guy making his debut, was a fantastic effort. The way we fought back after the Mumbai Test has been brilliant.

"It's hard to single anyone out," he explained when asked to name a standout performer or two. After rattling off several names, he added: "The number of names mentioned is a reflection of how well we've played as a team. Everyone in the squad, and all the support staff have contributed."

While praising S Sreesanth, whose 6 for 55 stifled England's charge in the final overs, Dravid said that no one could take their places for granted. "I hate telling anyone that they're a regular, including myself. We've all got to keep performing." He also brushed off the hackneyed questions about experimentation, saying: "We'll continue to see what combination gives us the best chance to win games. And in many cases, experimentation has been necessary because of lack of form or fitness."

When asked if the younger brigade had pushed some of the senior bowlers out of the reckoning, Dravid went back to the perform-or-perish mantra. "Whoever performs will keep getting chances. There's no question of junior or senior. Some have been injured and others have lost form, and we've had to give the younger ones responsibility. They're learning quickly."

Yuvraj Singh, who scooped a third consecutive Man-of-the-Series award, was quietly content with his efforts, but suggested that the matches against South Africa and Pakistan had provided a stiffer test. "I've improved a lot, and the year has been very good for me."

Dravid added that the responsibility of being one of the senior players in the squad had aided Yuvraj's development. "He's playing a lot straighter," he said, when asked to delve a little deeper. "The way he's finished games off for us has been exceptional, and with Raina and Dhoni, he's formed a potent combination down the order."

After another resounding defeat, Andrew Strauss, standing in for the rested Andrew Flintoff, preferred to look at some of the positives. "The young seam attack did very well in testing conditions," he said. "We've gained a lot of experience about what it takes to win in these conditions which are very foreign to us."

"Momentum's very important, and India are on a bit of a roll at the moment. Whenever you're missing experienced players, it's going to be tough. Even India found that in the last game. It'll stand us in good stead to have more players with international experiences ahead of challenges like the Champions Trophy and the World Cup."

According to Strauss, the failure of the batsmen to kick on was the difference between the two sides. "We'll have to look at our batting," he said. "We didn't score a hundred in six games. And at important moments, we lost too many wickets. The inexperience showed a little, and we've got to learn our lessons from that."

Asked about the absent Flintoff, who was restricted to ferrying drinks to the middle, Strauss suggested that a rest was long overdue. "He's a very very important player for us. We have a lot of cricket coming up, and it'll be good to have him refreshed before the first Test of the summer."

Dileep Premachandran is features editor of Cricinfo

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Dileep Premachandran Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to MyIndia.com followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and total-cricket.com. Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.
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