Kumble's shadow looms on any batting side: Dravid

Published: Thursday, April 15, 2004, 2:29 [IST]
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Rawalpindi:Indian vice-captain Rahul Dravid on Wednesday said his maiden century against Pakistan would become "special" only if his team won the series-decider against Pakistan and this would be possible only if they carried on their good show on the remaining days of the Test.

"It's a nice feeling to score your first Test century against Pakistan, but it will become special only if we win the match. We have to carry on performing in this way to be able to do that," Dravid, unbeaten on 134 at close of play on the second day, said in Rawalpindi.

The Indians took a first innings lead of 118 runs against Pakistan after bundling out the home team for 224 on the opening day of the match, marking the golden jubilee Test between the two archrivals.

Dravid said it was still too early to say what kind of a lead would be good enough for pressing a win. "We have not decided what lead would be good. We would definitely not like to bat again, that's the whole idea, the basic goal."

The Indian vice-captain said the home team would be under tremendous pressure if India managed to take the lead as batting on the fourth and fifth days would not be an easy task.

"It still looks a good wicket. There are some cracks and with the sun beating down, it could open up a little more. It would have something for the spinners on the fourth and fifth days and (Anil) Kumble could be a factor on those days. The shadow of Kumble looms on any batting side," he said.

On why Parthiv Patel was sent in as opener instead of Yuvraj Singh or captain Sourav Ganguly as indicated, Dravid said, "we felt that if Parthiv could see off the new ball, it would be good for the others.

"Yuvraj and Ganguly are more comfortable in the middle order and we thought we should not take them out of that position. Yuvraj is in good form and so we did not want to disturb his position. It is hard on Parthiv, it's something we have to assess in the future."

The dependable middle-order batsman praised young Patel for the "courage and character" he showed after he was asked to open the innings.

"It was a fantastic knock by a 19-year-old. He not only showed that he had the ability but also showed great courage and character. He played out the new ball in difficult conditions," Dravid said.

On whether the burden of captaincy in the two earlier matches had affected his batting, Dravid said, "it's too early to form an opinion in just three games. Yes, it is a fact that I have not been able to score much as a captain. May be some day in the future I will be able to correct that."

Dravid said the heat and the nature of the track had made batting a challenge. "The conditions were really challenging. The heat made it tough for the bowlers and I also got tired towards the end of the day."

Dravid said Pakistan bowlers, particularly Shoaib Akhtar, bowled well in patches. "It was a challenge facing Shoaib. He bowled quick at times and he dismissed Tendulkar and Laxman with two quality balls. But we knew he would not be able to sustain that kind of pace for long," he said.

Dravid said his only intention was to stay at the crease as long as possible and hold the Indian innings together. "It was important for me to stay till the end. I tried to hold one end up. The idea was to see off the freshness of the track and tire out the bowlers. The century partnerships with Parthiv and Laxman helped us do that.

"I had been very disappointed with the shot selections in the earlier two matches. I got out to some poor shots and did not want to repeat them today. I am always eager to score runs, but being eager doesn't always work. But when things are going for you, you try to make the best of it," he added.

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