'Wickets have probably not been the best'

Published: Tuesday, October 21, 2003, 1:34 [IST]
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Mohali: Having failed to force a result in their favour in the 'revenge series' against New Zealand, India's stand-in captain Rahul Dravid on Monday expressed dissatisfaction over the quality of pitches prepared for the Test series against New Zealand saying the "wickets have probably not been the best". "It's been a long time when there has been no result when India have been playing at home. Wickets have not been the best (in this series)," Dravid said after India managed to escape with a draw. Indian coach John Wright had also expressed similar views ahead of the second Test match and had even gone to the extent of saying that people who are responsible for preparing the tracks should keep the home advantage factor in mind. Dravid said most teams prepare tracks to suit their requirements while playing at home and it would not be unfair if India also prepared pitches to suit their strength.

"We had very good tracks when Australia had toured India couple of years back. I think those tracks were good for Test cricket," he said and added that he was not in favour of a track that turns from the very first day. The stand-in captain said the Mohali track started turning a bit on the fourth and fifth day and in that sense India may have gained by winning the toss. "The batsmen had the best of conditions to bat on. It would have been interesting if Anil (Kumble) and Harbhajan had bowled on the fourth and fifth day," he said. Dravid had a word of special praise for the stylish VVS Laxman and said his unbeaten knocks of 104 and 67 were very important from the team's point of view. "He was under pressure as India had a huge score to defend. Laxman showed terrific ability and temperament under testing conditions".

Opener Aakash Chopra, playing in only his second Test, also came in for praise. "Aakash (Chopra) showed all the qualities of an opener and both his knocks in this Test came at critical times". Dravid defended India's slow batting on the penultimate day, which saw only 187 runs. "The situation was such. We were trying to avoid the follow-on and the wicket was turning". He also defended his bowlers saying the conditions on the first two days were "too good for the batsmen". But he dismissed suggestions that captaincy put pressure on his batting. "I don't think that is true. All I can say is that I had a tough game, personally".

Asked whether he would keep wickets in the forthcoming triangular One-day series, Dravid said, "it is something which will be discussed with the selectors. The wicketkeeping option is open since we also have a specialist keeper in Parthiv (Patel) in the squad." Dravid felt New Zealand, after posting a mammoth 630 for six declared in the first innings, could have forced a result in their favour. "They had the best opportunity to force a result as the wicket had started taking turn on the final two days." Asked if team were disappointed for not winning the series, he said, "our goal was to win it. We are obviously disappointed, but I think both the teams played some competitive cricket".

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