'Some of the toughest pitches I've faced' - Dravid
Rahul Dravid has described India's Test series against West Indies as a tough learning experience for the younger batsmen and he hopes it will hold them in good stead for the future. India have not posted 300-plus in any of the four innings so far, but they lead the three-Test series 1-0 heading in to the final match.
"It's been tough for the batsmen," Dravid said. "It's not been easy for young batsmen to come in and face the new ball on these tracks. I have played four tours here and this has been some of the toughest tracks I have faced. Guys will learn a lot from this experience. It will hold them in good stead. As I was telling some of them they probably might not play on these kinds of tracks."
The likes of Virat Kohli and M Vijay haven't really come to the terms with the pitches and neither man has made 50 runs for the whole series. Vijay battled hard for nearly two hours in the first innings in Barbados and Kohli fought hard in the second innings but neither converted their starts. Abhinav Mukund made 48 in the second innings but couldn't carry on. Dravid felt that in the circumstances, India's batting had held up well.
"It's been a tough, hard series from the batsmen's perspective," he said. "The tracks have been slightly tilted towards bowlers, which is good. The West Indies' bowling has been good. From that perspective we have been challenged in this series and that has been good. People might say the batting hasn't fired but in the context of the series we have not done too badly. The tracks have had pace and bounce compared to the tracks they played in ODIs and tracks we played last time. If not for rain in Barbados we would have had two results."
Dravid counted Ishant Sharma as one of the big positives to emerge from this series. "Ishant has been sensational. Praveen Kumar, Harbhajan Singh, Abhimanyu Mithun and Amit Mishra all have done their job. The slip catching has been good. Touch wood, I hope I don't jinx it but slip catching has been top class. These are all the positives."
Ishant suffered a light cut under his eye while playing football in the training session today but Dravid said the injury wasn't serious. "Ishant has just a small bruise. A little bit of cut. He should be fine."
Dravid said India would go in to the final Test in Dominica with a winning mindset, rather than opting for safety first and trying to keep their 1-0 lead. "The Test match is an important one," Dravid said. "We are not worrying about the series. We've got the team to win this Test match. We would have liked to win the series in Barbados but to lose 130 overs due to rain was disappointing. We were in control of that Test match, especially from the second innings onwards. This is a good chance to win a series here again. We have to put up five days of big performance here."
Dravid said he hadn't seen the pitch yet but that he believed it would have some pace and bounce. "There will be some good atmosphere - this is the first Test match here and I believe when a one-day match was played here there was good crowd," he said. "Hopefully they will come in for the Test."