'Chastened Indians want to lengthen their batting'

Published: Monday, May 27, 2002, 21:07 [IST]
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Kingston (Jamaica): I believe India planned to field Rahul Dravid as a wicket-keeper in the two One-day Internationals at Sabina Park. It came to nought because it hasn't stopped raining since the Test was over last Wednesday. We not only missed a chance to play the two games and keep the winning momentum going, but also to assess first hand how good Dravid is as a 'keeper. We know he is a good man to have in front of the wickets. We are not sure how he is behind the sticks. I believe you need to have a specialist wicket-keeper in both forms of the game, be it in the Tests or in One-dayers. The Indians obviously want to lengthen their batting as they must be chastened by their experience of Tests where batsmen failed them on more than one occasion. It is not for me to comment on the merit of the choice. I believe if it strengthens a team and makes its chances in a game get better then there is no harm.

There is also no point in looking at the negative aspect and wonder if one of your main batsmen could get injured in trying to take up an unfamiliar role. Unlike in Tests, we do not have the first-hand experience of a few specialist Indian One-day players. We saw a bit of Virender Sehwag in Zimbabwe and I believe he is an exciting, destructive batsman in the Tendulkar mode. The Caribbean public would love to see a dasher like him in full flow. I am also looking forward to watching the ability of Yuvraj Singh who is another talented youngster the Indians have. We have tried to procure videos of Indian players before the One-day series and hopefully we would secure them before the Barbados game. The same was the case before the Tests when we tried to get hold of video footage. We must confess we were rather desperate for it.

We didn't get it on time and when we got them it was too late. Fortunately, we have a little bit of first-hand knowledge about most of them and it should come in handy. Ours is mostly a young side and we have tried to assimilate them for a common, collective objective in the last few days. In this respect, rain has been of help in a way. We made sure the younger players are not left to their own devices and allowed to keep a do-not-disturb sign at the door. Rather, we have trained with great intensity together in the gym and tried to make everyone aware of his responsibility. We are pretty much looking forward to Barbados. We don't want complacency to creep in. We have savoured our Test win but it is gone and is history. The important thing was to maintain intensity and train hard at a time when formal practice was not possible. This we managed to our satisfaction.

At the moment, we can't wait to get out in the park in Barbados. We had two boring days because of rain but we could also relax and I had a chance to spend some quality time with my wife and kid. We had a chance to go to the movies and I dealt with a whole lot of pending e-mails. I didn't go to Sabina Park in this period, not even to pick up my gear - it was handled by our liaison officer and we were grateful for that. Coach (Roger Harper) did manage to visit the venue a day before the first One-dayer and said the ground was very wet and any chance of play was slim. I for one have never seen so much rain in Jamaica during my long career. It is unseasonal and has taken everyone by surprise.

I really am struggling to find an instance similar to what we have undergone in the last four days. Even in England, where it rains quite frequently in summer, I can't recall a situation similar to Jamaica in the last few days. We are staying in the same hotel as the Indians and it is pretty exciting to see hundreds of fans flocking the hotel lobby and trying to get pictures and autographs of their favourite stars. Well, we have been to India before and know it is just the tip of the iceberg compared to what it is in the sub-continent. We know Indian fans are fanatical. I don't socialise much but I was more than happy to sign a few autographs and pose for a few photos with these fans. People have come all the way from India and North America just to see a game and the least we can do is to spend a bit of time in the lobby and speak a few words to them.

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