'We were a bowler short' - Dravid
Rahul Dravid, the Indian captain, has said the lack of a regular fifth bowler was a crucial factor in the four-wicket defeat against Sri Lanka in the fourth match of the IndianOil Cup at Dambulla on August 3.
"After having them 95 for 6 at one stage, losing the game is hard to swallow," said Dravid according to a PTI news release. "Maybe we needed another wicket at that stage but Mahela [Jayawardene] and Upul [Chandana] played very well and we were probably a bowler short."
He also blamed the batsmen for not performing in the closing stages of the innings. "In the two games we have played against Sri Lanka, batsmen have not batted in the last seven or eight overs. That has cost us badly," Dravid said. "We are playing an extra batsman hoping he would score enough runs. We need to convert starts and top batsmen need to bat till the end overs."
Dravid also said that the wicket was easier to bat on in the second innings and that the ball became softer towards the end of the second innings. He praised Ashish Nehra for his excellent spell of 2 for 22 and said that he was happy with the fighting spirit the team showed. "It was good to run them close in two matches," said Dravid "we now have to try to finish them off."
Marvan Atapattu, the Sri Lankan captain, commended Jayawardene (94 not out) for his excellent innings under pressure. He added that Chandana, with his quick running between the wickets and timely fours during his unbeaten knock of 44, eased the tense situation considerably. "We have had good individual performances in this competition so far," said Atapattu. "Now we need to combine well as a team in the final." Jayawardene, the Man of the Match, said that he was able to plan his innings by coming higher in the batting order. He also reconfirmed that they were targeting India's bowling weakness - the lack a reliable fifth bowler. "We wanted to be at 160 with 10 overs to go and exploit the fifth bowler, but we got more than what we required."
Sourav Ganguly, who top-scored for India with 51 and became the third batsman to reach 10,000 runs in ODIs, said that he was happy with his achievement but that did not take away the disappointment of losing the match. "I am happy to have crossed the 10,000-run landmark. I have been around for nine years. Hopefully there are a few more runs left in me," said Ganguly. "It's a big milestone to be among the first three to have reached 10,000 runs." He said that the bowlers didn't do well by letting Sri Lanka off the hook after taking six early wickets. "It was disappointing to end up losers. We had a good platform and shouldn't have lost from a position of 95 for 6. We didn't bowl well."
Ganguly was back opening the innings for India in the absence of Sachin Tendulkar. He has been prolific as an opener but he said that he dropped down the order because it was in the team's interest that Virender Sehwag did well as an opener. "I scored 8,000 runs as an opener. I left that batting position for the team, because Sachin and Sehwag were doing well," said Ganguly. "Of course it has hampered me in my big scores. But then it is a team game and it [the team] comes first."