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West Indies v India, 2nd Test, St Lucia, 5th day

Dravid lauds team effort on slow pitch

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan in St Lucia

June 15, 2006

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Rahul Dravid justified that his side has learned to perform well on foreign soil © AFP
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Having dominated seven of the nine days of cricket possible, Rahul Dravid had no reason to be overtly concerned. He admitted that the close-in catching had been a problem area but reiterated that to get close to winning what was effectively a four-day contest was "creditable".

"There were one or two close chances we could have held," said Dravid about the performance of the catchers hovering around the bat. "These catches, on slow and low wickets when you are standing close to the batsmen, can be tricky. But the guys are working very hard on them. But to be honest, if we can pick one or two of these sharp chances, we can produce results in such close games."

It isn't an issue that's crept up only here. India in fact paid for their sloppy close-in fielding two Tests ago, when England levelled the series at Mumbai. The funny part of it was that India's fielders had, just on the eve of the Test, spoken to Yajurvindra Singh, the former Indian cricketer renowned for being a specialist at short-leg, about the art. Dravid himself made a name for himself as a fine close-in fielder and he elaborated a bit more on what was required to excel there.

"The key is to stay as low as possible and keep facing the batsman as late as possible," he continued. "It takes a bit of practice and courage as well. "You need to do it for a while and enjoy it. You almost need to see yourself as an extra bowler who can make a difference. In some ways you got to see it as making a contribution. I always tell the guys once you have finished batting, who can be an extra arm for the bowling side."

Was he disappointed with his bowlers' effort today? "I wouldn't say that our bowlers are not able to give finishing touches. We managed to get 17 wickets on a track which was very slow and afforded only slow spin. It wasn't easy, for the edges were not carrying. I knew the spinners would bowl more overs today. To get so close to a result in four days was creditable. There were limited ways you could get batsmen out on this track."

India will know that it's only a matter of ironing out a few chinks before they taste success. "We have a reputation of being poor travelers but in the last two Tests we have come very close to winning on foreign soil," Dravid justified. "We have shown that we can play good cricket abroad. That's the focus."

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo

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