West Indies v India, 1st Test, Antigua, 5th day June 7, 2006

'Today, the bowlers showed a lot of heart' - Dravid



'Sometimes captaincy is about gut feeling' © Getty Images

Rahul Dravid has hailed the efforts of his inexperienced fast-bowling attack, enabling India to get within a hairs-breadth of pulling off a historic win. He added that a "gut" feeling had made him choose Sreesanth for the final over, adding that India had a number of positives to take with them into the second Test at St Lucia, starting in four days' time.

One could sense how shattered Sreesanth was at the end of the final over, when he even forgot his wristband on the pitch, but Dravid thought he'd done a "great" job nevertheless. "I hope he is feeling good," said Dravid at the end of the day. "I had four options, but I was always going for Sreesanth. Sometimes captaincy is about gut feeling. He bowled great today in just his third Test. He struggled in the first innings, but he has lot of ability and is a fast learner. He didn't have a great day in the first innings. It was a tough day but we have to be patient with them and let them grow.

"Today, the bowlers showed a lot of heart. They're young seamers and they need to get their lengths right. Sometimes when we, in India, see young bowlers we label them fast and quick, but we must remember our strengths. We are not going to bowl 150-plus, dig it in short and bounce people; we are good at what we do, we must get away from hype that gets portrayed around these bowlers."

Dravid was impressed with the way his youngsters in the team handled the pressure, saying that he didn't have to do much to calm the nerves. "They showed composure, all of them wanted to have a bowl even under pressure. My job was to just tell them to stick to basics. One of the reasons for standing at mid-off was that we had young quicks, but I prefer to not keep talking too many times and make them confused. They know what to do because they have bowled at this level, I just gave reinforcements."

Wasim Jaffer, who was awarded the Man-of-the-Match award, got his share of praise as well. "Jaffer was brilliant. Some of the shots he played were tough to play on this pitch. Earlier, he was loose and would throw his wicket away but hopefully he will emerge consistent, because he has all the tools to succeed at this level."

Despite falling short by the smallest of margins, Dravid said India would use this as a learning opportunity. "It was a great game of cricket. I was happy that my team was part of this Test, we learn a lot from the mach. We had no chance at the end of the second day and most had written us off. Nobody would have believed we could have done this. The pitch also held up brilliantly. There was not much spin, but it had a bit of bounce. You needed to pitch the ball up and get the batsmen to drive. I thought our young seamers bowled spells of high quality, real Test-class bowling. Kumble was fantastic, plugging away, so we created pressure. That helped."

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo