Rahul Dravid is enjoying the new season in his new role as captain. Even though India lost the opening game of the tri-series yesterday narrowly to Sri Lanka, Dravid has not been losing sleep.
Against Sri Lanka he showed a fluent touch in his 54 even if it was in a losing cause. On Sunday evening he continued in the same vein to finish unbeaten on match-winning 52 that gained him the Man-of-the-Match honours. "Yes, I am enjoying the role and the feeling of comfort comes from the fact that the each one of us is playing his role well."
The tight line and length and the economic spells of his bowlers has not been lost on Dravid. He was happy that the bowlers have come out well at the beginning of the new season. "The fast bowlers have really done well here and struck to the correct line and length."
Both he and the Indian coach Greg Chappell had talked about how they were using this series as a stepping stone to bigger things in the future. And identifying and grooming young talent was high on the priority list. "This tournament gave us the opportunity to test the youngsters. And, so far, I have been impressed. Suresh Raina did well today as did Venu [Venugopal Rao] yesterday." The Indian captain feels flexibility is the another key factor when it comes to the team selection. "We would like to give more responsibilities to the youngsters by giving them chances frequently. But that may not be possible always."
Even if India have changed its opening combination in the first two matches - in the first game Virender Sehwag opened with Mahendra Singh Dhoni and today it was Mohammad Kaif who raised his hand to open with Sehwag - and with Sourav Ganguly joining the squad on Monday, Dravid feels he is spoilt for choice. "Sourav has seen a lot of success at that position and everyone knows his record, so that is a very big option for us." He was also unperturbed with Anil Kumble not having played a game as yet. "Harbhajan has been doing well and though it was very difficult to bench someone like Anil, I am sure he is top bowler and would understand."
His West Indian counterpart Shivnarine Chanderpaul thought that it could have been a different game had the fielding been more circumspect. "If we had held our catches it could've been a different game."
Nagraj Gollapudi is sub-editor of Wisden Asia Cricket