'Ganguly set up the game for us' - Dravid
Once the trumpeting and jubilation of India's triumph dies down one can actually sit down to ask what does this victory mean? Several answers may emerge but one among them may be a succinct "not much". Of course it's good to get back into the habit of winning and it's great for the batsmen to find their touch but winning on such a pitch, tailor-made for a batting party, can't eliminate cracks that have appeared recently.
India have yet to find the fifth-bowler solution - Sachin Tendulkar did a fair job today by conceding just, yes in the context of the game, just 5.4 per over. "He did a good job for us," said Rahul Dravid, "but we're always looking at options. Ganguly couldn't bowl today because of suffering a slight cramp but he's been bowling well at the nets and can be a handy operator on these pitches. It was always going to be difficult on this pitch but considering the conditions, I thought we did OK."
One can't blame the players too much; they can only play on the surfaces that are offered. Brian Lara looked at the upside, talking about how such pitches provide for such great entertainment. "The 50-over game is about batsmen since the time it was invented," he responded. "There was nothing wrong with the pitch. The curator said there would be more than 300 and that was how it turned out. At the end of the day, we are entertainers and we hope the pitches in the Caribbean are like this in the World Cup so that everyone will be able to enjoy the games."
Dravid didn't think that such a high-scoring clashes would be the order of the series. "The pitches won't be playing like this throughout the series," felt Dravid. "Nagpur has always been a very good pitch for batting. The last time we played at Cuttack, the pitch was slow and tricky. Chennai being a day-night game, we'll have to take the dew factor into account. And Baroda usually helps the bowlers early on. So we're playing in different zones and things maybe different."
What India must be credited with, though, is to cash in on such a good pitch, none more so that Ganguly, who made a splendid return. "When people score runs, it solves a lot of problems for us," said Dravid about the importance of Ganguly's knock. "It's important for our key players to score runs. It was a very good innings, especially because he was coming back after a long time. It's a great sign and he stayed at the wicket and set up the game for us."
Lara seconded the judgement. "Unfortunately Ganguly didn't get a hundred," he said. "He's a player of high class and you expect performances like that. We know he's eager to get back and you got to give him credit. He's mentally strong and to come back and do well shows he's very capable. Batting out there he showed how eager he was."
It's tough to overshadow the sort of innings that Ganguly played but Shivnarine Chanderpaul did just that. Dravid admitted to be nervous towards the latter stages, adding that Chanderpaul's presence was always going to be crucial. "We knew we had the game in control but when you have a batsman who plays as well as he was, you never know. It was one of the better innings I have seen while chasing, especially in India."
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo