South Africa v India, 1st Test, Centurion, 2nd day December 17, 2010

Disappointed Dravid confident of saving the game

Rahul Dravid is not a man for false bravado. At the end of the second day, with India 230 runs behind, with three days to go and eight South African wickets still standing, Dravid didn't promise to show "what batting actually means", but said that the team believed they could get out of this rut.

"We are way behind in the game, that's pretty obvious," Dravid said. "We are far behind. But yeah we have got to bat well in the second innings. Yeah, it's going to be tough, but we have got some quality there. We have shown some fighting spirit in the last couple of years. We have got to believe that we have got that and we are going to have to play well."

Dravid is not alien to India's slow starts on important tours, but was distraught the team went back to old ways. "I thought we had come a long way over the last few years to correct that," he said. "Over the last decade we have tried to correct that. We sometimes do tend to start off slowly, and in a three-match series you cannot afford that sort of thing."

Dravid, though, can't do anything about one of the reasons behind this particular slow start. "In an ideal world, you know, you would play a warm-up game or a couple of warm-up games before a tour like this," he said. "But we don't live in a Utopian world, we don't live in a perfect world, you have got to make do with what you have. We tried to do the best we could, we came here as early as possible - some of us - and practised a bit. The conditions yesterday were a bit different from what we have practised on also, but having said that, there's still a lot of cricket left in this series. We have got to keep our heads up, and we have got to show some fighting spirit with the ball tomorrow and later with the bat."

Despite the weather leading into the match, South Africa are not looking for an adventurous declaration just as yet, which could mean India will begin their second innings some time after tea on day three - weather permitting and assuming South Africa won't collapse against the run of play. That would leave India more than two days to bat, facing a deficit of around 450.

"We just can't think about how many runs behind we are, and how much time is left," Dravid said. "We have got to play ball by ball, hour by hour, session by session, we have to bat for long periods of time. We can't afford to look too far ahead, we are so far behind in the game."

That the pitch has eased out considerably does give Dravid hope. "We saw today that it did get a lot better. It will be interesting to see how it plays as the game goes on. We have got to still bat really well, with us so many runs behind on the fourth and the fifth day. It's a good test, it's going to be a great challenge."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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