'Not good for India-Pakistan cricket'
Statistical milestones apart, the first two Tests of this series will probably be forgotten before too long and Rahul Dravid felt that it wasn't a good advertisement for India-Pakistan cricket, considering that they had two exciting series in the recent past. Five of the last six Tests that the two teams have played prior to this series produced results and, as Dravid added, the pitches they were played on had a bearing on the outcome.
"You prepare another wicket like this and the game will be a draw," he said frankly. "We've had some very good series before this one. The series when we came here in 2004, Andy Atkinson prepared, what I thought, some of the best wickets I've seen and played in my career. When Pakistan came to India, all three Test matches were good games and there was a chance of a result.
"The two games that had results finished after tea on the fifth day, and in Mohali we had Akmal and Razzaq batting really well. So all Tests went up to five days and there were great cricketing series because of the quality of wickets that were produced. The last couple of Test matches haven't lived up to the expectations of an India-Pakistan contest and I hope Karachi will do that. It needs to encourage good cricket. India-Pakistan cricket is important to many people in the world and it's important that people get to see good cricket. Not only for the two countries but for world cricket."
Despite the bowlers conceding more than 1000 runs in the match, Dravid backed his decision, saying that it was the best option. "It was a right tactic considering the conditions and the wicket," he added. "When I took a look at the wicket before the game, I knew it was going to be tough for my bowlers. I backed my five batsmen along with Dhoni, Irfan and guys like Harbhajan who can bat. If you're looking to take 20 wickets on a pitch like this, you need as many bowling resources as you can. We may not do it in the next game but it's an option that we can always consider. In the end we're looking to be positive, looking to win Test matches."
After sporting a jaded look in the first innings, Irfan Pathan came back strongly in the second, bowling quicker and swinging the ball this morning. "He's been working quite hard and trying to hit the right areas," said Dravid, "but sometimes it's about confidence, rhythm and feel. Sometimes when bowling on tracks such as this, you lose a bit of that rhythm and feel. I thought he had that rhythm today and focused on not trying to take wickets but on just bowling in good areas. And I think the spell in the morning that beat the batsmen a couple of times was really heartening for us. It showed that he was coming back to somewhere near his best."
Dravid revealed that he hadn't expected Pakistan to set a target, factoring in both the pitch and the batsmen's form, and talked about why he had tried innovative field placements during the day. "I wouldn't think it's negative cricket on this pitch," he said. "We tried to frustrate the batsmen and contain runs. We tried a mainly leg-side field to see if we can get batsmen caught at short midwicket or short mid-on. We bowled down the off side with an 8-1 field in the first innings. There was nothing in the wicket so we had to try. With an 8-1 field in the first innings, we dismissed both Younis and Yousuf."
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo