Dravid: 'We could have batted better'
While defending the strategy to omit India's two specialist openers from the side, he added that the team might need to alter their tactic in the future. "We had regular openers but we also had couple of openers who had a 410-run partnership in the first Test and had done pretty well in the second," he added. "We went into the series with what we thought was the best batting combination. In the future we might have to look at playing not just the best batsmen but the best batsmen in certain positions."
Not for the first time, India's batting line-up was exposed on bowler-friendly conditions and Dravid acknowledged that it was a concern. "We could have batted better, especially against the new ball," he continued. "If some of the top two or three had gone on, things might have been different. We have guys who have the ability to play big innings but they got out early and unfortunately it put a lot of pressure on us. We've done well in the past and had success in England and Australia. On this day, we weren't good enough. They bowled better than us and we didn't play as much as we should have."
Dravid wasn't too critical of his bowlers, talking about the effects of the previous two games: "They had bowled a lot of overs leading into this game. We lost a couple of tosses on two flat decks and lobbed a lot of overs before we got here. I think it was around 500 overs. By the time the second innings came, there wasn't much recovery time since we got out pretty quickly. We could have bowled better in the second innings but we couldn't exert much pressure."
However, Dravid did mention that picking three left-arm seamers for the game had probably robbed the side of a bit of variety. "You can probably say it wasn't a varied attack. All our bowlers tend to pitch it up. It worked well in the first morning but after that it was more a hit-the-deck, up-and-down wicket. Asif and Razzaq showed that. We started the game picking our three best bowlers. We didn't want to risk losing Ajit [Agarkar] to injury and wanted to make sure we had the fit combination."
Mohammad Asif, according to Dravid, had been the best bowler on either side and he lauded him for his impressive spells in just his third Test. "I think he used the conditions well. To remove the kind of quality batsmen he did in both the innings tells you something about how he bowled. For someone playing his third Test he put the ball in the right areas, especially with the new one. It was his wickets that made the difference in both the innings with the new ball."
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo