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'There is certain energy in the group' - Dravid

'We had a good couple of weeks and got on a roll. Mentally, the last 15 to 16 games have been good for our confidence' , says Dravid



Rahul Dravid believes Yuvraj Singh has taken his batting ' to a new level' and reckons Mahendra Siingh Dhoni is 'a special player and an exceptional talent' © AFP
What do you say about two batsmen who have aggregated 563 runs between them, ended with averages of 172 and 219, responded to different sorts of pressures, and finished games in resounding fashion? Throughout the series, Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni proved to be thorns in Pakistan's flesh and Rahul Dravid acknowledged their role with fulsome praise.
"Yuvraj's Man-of-the-Series award is well deserved," he said at the post-match press conference. "His batting has come along over the last few months and he's really taken it to a new level. He's gone from strength to strength. After his 84 on debut [in the 2000 Champions Trophy against Australia in Nairobi], we knew he was a special talent. But the last few months have been a turning point.
"He will have low points in his career but he will surely come through. One can't point out one specific reason why he's batting so well. It's not like throwing a switch or taking a tablet. He started season well and that gave him a bit of confidence. Becoming a regular part of the Test team was also a big step for him. The vice-captaincy has also brought with it a sense of belonging and responsibility."
Dravid termed the Lahore win as a "special" one and felt that it was the game when they had "broken Pakistan's back". Two of the architects of that victory were Yuvraj and Dhoni, one who Dravid felt had been a priceless asset to the side. "Dhoni has added zing to the side," he continued. "He's a special player and an exceptional talent. He has both a fantastic strike-rate and average. We're looking at it like a jigsaw puzzle and still trying to fit people in like Dhoni. The advantage with him is that he can be fitted anywhere - he finishes games, and, along with Irfan, gives us that option."


'We tried to give Sreesanth the new ball and old ball. He responded very well at the death' - Dravid © AFP
He was also heartened by the strides that the bowlers had taken during this tour and spoke about the way they had handled different challenges. "It's good that bowlers like Sreesanth and RP Singh have done so well," he added when asked about his faster bowlers having a greater say during this series, snaffling 30 of the 39 wickets to fall. "It was great that we could give them a new challenge every day and see them respond. We tried to give Sreesanth the new ball and old ball. He responded very well at the death. We're trying to develop a squad where different bowlers can do well in different parts of game. The bowlers were under pressure after the Tests but they stuck to each other as a group, talked through their plans and executed it to perfection."
This series win caps a superb four months for Dravid as a one-day captain and he looked back at what has been a memorable time in charge. "We had a good couple of weeks and got on a roll. Mentally, the last 15 to 16 games have been good for our confidence. All the teams we played were higher than us in the table [Sri Lanka, South Africa and Pakistan] but we didn't lose any series. There is certain energy in the group and it's been a good few months."
Dravid and his boys will get only around ten days before their next challenge, a stern Test series against England, and he spoke about the plans for the same. "The Tests against England will be a different challenge. It's a new series and a different team. We get a few days break before we go back and formulate strategies. There's a good spirit and confidence in the side and we're confident."
He added that he hadn't had much of chance to think about selectorial matters, like who would open the batting in Tests. "The selectors will have a big say. We will discuss plans and strategies before the series."

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo