Indian Oil Cup July 31, 2005

Dravid takes the positives from defeat

Cricinfo staff

Sanath Jayasuriya: played a vital knock at a crucial time © AFP

Rahul Dravid, the Indian captain, has drawn positives from India's three-wicket loss to Sri Lanka in the first match of the Indian Oil Cup. Dravid has said that he was impressed by the way the bowlers very nearly won the match for India.

He said the fact that they had scored 30 runs too little and that they could not contain Sanath Jayasuriya, who made 43, proved decisive. "If we had enough runs on the board we could have won, but the batsmen did not particularly do well. We could have got Sanath and got 30 more runs," said Dravid quoted by PTI. He said that the bowlers, who made Sri Lanka toil for their 209 runs, and the youngsters, had done well after a three-month break from cricket. "I am proud of the way the bowlers bowled. I could not have asked for more from them. We have to come back strong from here on".

Dravid admitted that the back spasm that VVS Laxman suffered on the morning of the match had caused some selection problems. He defended the decision to drop Anil Kumble and JP Yadav, even though India were a bowler short, saying that they needed the extra batsman because the batting line-up lacked experience. "Frankly I don't think the combination was an issue. It was our top order who didn't come good, I do think it was a 250-run wicket," said Dravid. "We picked three seamers because the wicket did assist swing bowling and there are lights here. The bowlers did well and fought hard."

Marvan Attapattu, the Sri Lankan captain, admitted that there was scope for improvement and admitted that India had fought well. "They fought back well. But we were fortunate to have Sanath," he said. "There is room for improvement in all the areas. We will try to improve in our next match which is on August 3."

Sanath Jayasuriya suffered a dislocated shoulder during the Indian innings but came back to play a crucial role in steering Sri Lanka to victory. "That's [opener] my place. I am happy to bat at number five and win the match for the country," said Jayasuriya. "I told them [batsmen] to stay at the crease and runs will come." He said that he was in pain at the start of his innings. "Initially I was in pain since I had just taken the injection and it takes 20 minutes for it to work. I couldn't cut or pull," said Jayasuriya who rated his knock as one of his most memorable. "We needed to win and my approach was to occupy the crease and bat till the end."

Dravid was all praise for Sanath Jayasuriya and said that his innings was a lesson for all cricketers. "He was terrfic. To do what he did with his dislocated shoulder was outstanding. He is a champion cricketer," said Dravid. Atapattu said that Jayasuriya would not have batted had Sri Lanka been in a comfortable position instead of 112 for 5. "But we wanted to be in a position where if something goes wrong we could send him in with an injection." He said it sometimes became tricky to chase a low total. "A low target could be a tricky one. The approach becomes different and you don't know whether to score fast or get the run rate going."