'Every session is very important now' - Dravid
Rahul Dravid has hinted that he will open the batting, despite terming it a short-term option, and emphasised the importance of starting well in the second Test at Faisalabad. He added that the bowlers needed to wake up to the challenge of bowling on placid tracks, lowering the bar and trying different strategies.
"We already have two specialist openers available," he said when asked if India were considering using Sourav Ganguly as an opener. "My individual success and the good partnership with Sehwag has given us some short-term options. Instead of looking at it as a difficult situation, I would like to take it as a positive. It has given us the opportunity to try a few things out. We will review it on an ongoing basis, when we go on other tours, when the pitches and the conditions are different. But we are not looking at Sourav opening as an option at this moment."
Approaching the series as a two-Test rubber, Dravid reiterated that every session from now on would be critical, and hoped for some moments of brilliance from his side. "Every hour, every session is very important now," he continued. "With less sessions and less Tests left, you can't afford to make many mistakes. Looking at it the other way, it also gives us the opportunity of having a couple of good sessions. A couple of sessions of brilliance from the team can put you in good positions."
Gauging the surface, Dravid termed it as being "slightly different" to Lahore. "It looks a good wicket, good for batting," he confirmed, "and as the game progresses, maybe it will play a little up and down, helping the bowlers. Crucially, we have to play good cricket on it for five days. Let's give it a chance, let's see how it pans out. We are focussing on playing good cricket, and I am sure the curator has done his best in the time he has got."
When confronted with a flat track, he felt the bowlers needed to approach it as a challenge rather than curse their luck. "You throw out a challenge to them," he noted. "In difficult conditions, it will be unrealistic to expect them to run through the opposition. But you tell them to look to keep the runs down. It's as challenging for the bowlers to bowl on flat tracks as it is for batsmen to play in a green top or a seaming pitch. Just like a 40 on a green top can be criticial, a couple of wickets at a crucial time can be decisive. In such conditions, you have to lower the bar. Most of the bowlers are experienced, they enjoy the challenges, and they can gain and learn from the experience that will help them in better conditions."
Barring Sachin Tendulkar, none of the current squad has played at Faisalabad before but Dravid revealed that knowledge of the previous Tests provided them with indications of what to expect. "We look at a lot of numbers as part of the build-up," he added, "and that can give you an indication of how games have gone here. But you can't form definitive judgements based on those numbers alone, because the kind of wickets and conditions can vary dramatically. You don't have the same wickets this month as you had the previous month, so you can't really read too much into what happened five years back."
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo