'We just didn't really chase well in the sense we kept losing wickets at regular intervals'
Rahul Dravid did not single out any particular moment where the second one-day international against Sri Lanka was lost, but instead felt India needed one batsman to
play a big innings and that just did not happen. "I don't think there was one turning point in the game. From 129 for 2, we lost a couple of wickets there, and to lose Dinesh Karthik at the end was very critical for us," he said. "We just didn't really chase well, in the sense that we kept losing wickets at regular intervals. We needed one of our set batsmen to go on and get a big score and finish the game off but we just couldn't achieve that today and it is a good lesson for us."
However, Dravid did concede that the fielding of the Sri Lankans played a crucial part in their victory. "They fielded really well. I don't think we fielded that badly. Our outfielding was pretty good today. Some of their throwing from the deep was pretty exceptional and some of the catches towards the end there were really good. Those catches probably turned it for them at the end."
Dravid also defended his decision to put Sri Lanka in on winning the toss, pointing to the early juice in the pitch. "There was something in the wicket. There was a bit of moisture early on, and that happens with nine a.m. starts in India," he said. "That [the decision to field] was fine, the ball seamed around a bit both for Munaf and Sreesanth. To restrict
them to 257 was a very good effort. At one stage, it looked like we were playing well. We just kept losing wickets and the pressure kept piling on us."
Dravid also clarified that Zaheer Khan was ruled out of the match at the last moment with a sore shoulder. "Zaheer had a sore shoulder last evening, he picked it up after practice. He was a bit tentative this morning and felt that he wouldn't be able to put in the pressure and the effort that it would take to bowl. We didn't want to take a chance."
Dravid admitted that the team did toy with the idea of bringing a fast bowler into the squad on standby but that there was little time in which to do so. "Injuries of this sort at the last minute are a bit unfortunate. We did debate that at some point last night but it was too late to get someone in at that stage. It was disappointing for us not to be able to play that extra quick but it's not something that you can control in that sense," he said. "I think the guys did a good job with the resources that we had, we did a really good job. Obviously a third quick might have been quite advantageous on this wicket but we didn't have that option. The bowling department I was happy with, we just didn't really chase well."
When asked if the team was perhaps a bit complacent, having restricted Sri Lanka to only 257, Dravid - predictably - denied this. "I wouldn't say we were complacent. I just think that none of the batsmen played on till the end. Dhoni and Karthik had a good little partnership, they were batting really well but unfortunately Karthik got out," he said "Sachin and Sourav were batting really well, one of them should have gone on till the
end - anyone in the top four or five. Like Sangakkara showed. If one batsman can go on and get a big score, he generally ends up on the winning side."
One of the focal points of this match was the return of Virender Sehwag and, although Dravid was happy with the little he saw of Sehwag, the manner of the dismissal left much to be desired. "He batted quite well for the period he was there. I am sure he will be disappointed with the shot that he played," said Dravid. "But he looked okay till then. It's just a question of him now trying to get that big score. Today was a good
opportunity to do that, set the pace and stay and bat till the end but he got out. But he looked okay till then."
As expected, Dravid refused to answer any questions about the impending selection of the 15-man squad for the World Cup, saying he would say what he had to directly to the selectors when they meet in Mumbai on Monday.
Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan captain, credited Sangakkara's 110 - that rescued them from a disastrous 58 for 4 - and some brilliant fielding towards the end. "We knew that we were in the game till the last ball. The morning effort from Kumar helped us reach that score," he said. "We knew that if couple of wickets fall then we are in the game. Sachin's dismissal was the turning point. Couple of quick wickets and good fielding at the end won the match."
Jayawardene also highlighted Farveez Maharoof's stunning catch to dismiss Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the last over, saying: "It was a brilliant effort and came under pressure situation. We needed to hold on to such catches to win close matches".
Man-of-the match Sangakkara admitted the plan, after a shaky start, had been to occupy the crease: "We wanted to stay there and knew that we need to have a batsman till the end. Dilshan played well and kept the scoreboard moving and made things easy".
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo