'We played better cricket throughout the series': Dravid
Rahul Dravid doesn't usually make emphatic statements at press conferences. Today was different. He hailed his pace-bowling attack for playing a significant part in the series victory and, in what was a fine tribute, said he hadn't seen the like from an Indian attack since 1996. He also said that India had played the "better cricket" throughout the series, and added that it would have been very disappointing to go back without a win.
"In the 10 years I played international cricket I've seen Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad bowl well throughout the series in England in 1996. This seam attack bowled well throughout this series, I have seen fine spells in my career but this is the best I have seen throughout a series since 1996. They are young and inexperienced, and yet they did it. Munaf [Patel] and Sreesanth played most of the games here, VRV Singh also did well, and Irfan [Pathan] did well when he played.
"None of the great fast bowlers were great after six or seven Test matches, it takes time and experience to get better in Test cricket. Unfortunately expectations are too much, unfortunately people look at who is not here, rather than looking at people who are here and admiring the work done by people who are part of the team. That's how you are going to inspire young kids, by talking about the people here."
Did he think 1-0 was a fair result? "We played the better cricket throughout the series, and if we had 90 overs in Lucia we would have probably won 2-0. We were one wicket away from winning in Antigua and three wickets away from winning in St Lucia. We had our backs to the wall in St Kitts but never looked like losing on the last day."
Dravid the batsman was in a different zone throughout the series, especially in the final Test at Kingston, but he insisted that team glory came ahead of all else. "Winning the series is the most important thing," he continued. "We played the better cricket right from the first Test after the first two days. It's sort of nice that it all bore fruit in the end and we won the series. Everyone contributed at various stages - Jaffer's 200 helped us fight back in Antigua, Laxman's 100 helped us save the Test in St Kitts, Sehwag's 100 almost won us the game in St Lucia. Then there was Kaif's 100 in St Lucia. Our spinners were brilliant right through. I have seen improvement in some areas and we need to improve in other areas, it's never the finished article there is always scope for improvement."
In this Test, though, the difference between the two sides was Dravid's two fifties, both varnished with gold. "These couple of innings are probably two of the best I have played," he added, "it gave me a lot of satisfaction. It was not an easy wicket to bat, you needed a bit of luck, you are going to get beaten a few times, and you may nick one early on. One of the keys on this wicket is to get fully forward and fully back, to play as late as possible and with soft hands. I was trying to tell some of our guys the same thing to try and bat periods of time; every run was going to be important as we saw in the end."
One of the main debates that's constantly resurfaced during the tour has related to India's bowling combination. Dravid patiently explained the situation: "I would love to play the fifth bowler. There is no doubt in my mind that going ahead that would be the aim, we got two quality spinners so that helps us to play two and two. [Mahendra] Dhoni is playing his first international tour, he can't be classified as a frontline batsman. Players like Irfan, [Mohammad] Kaif and Yuvraj are also learning their trade. Wasim [Jaffer] is on his comeback. We have to weigh all these options before picking the side. We have a bit of inexperience in the batting especially when it comes to batting in such conditions but they are going to get used to such conditions as they go along. Our domestic cricket is very different to this and one-day cricket is also very different from these conditions."
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo