Dravid confesses on the declaration episode

Published: Saturday, April 24, 2004, 21:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Had he known that India would win the Multan Test against Pakistan in almost four days, he would not have made the controversial declaration of India's first innings with Sachin Tendulkar stranded at 194 not out, vice-captain Rahul Dravid confessed on Saturday.

"Retrospect is a beautiful thing. If I had known that the Test would finish in four days I would not have declared then," Dravid said at a function organised to celebrate India's triumph over Pakistan in both One-dayers andthe Tests.

"Both Sachin and I have a sore throat now clarifying (this issue). It has been made a bigger issue than it is. At least it is not an issue in the team. We have sorted it out. We respect each other too much to let it linger on," he said.

In the first Test at Multan, India declared their first innings at 675 for five towards the end of the second day with Tendulkar just six runs short of what would have been his fourth double-century, a decision which was hotly debated on either side of the border. The Indians went on beat Pakistancomfortably by an innings and 52 runs.

Asked how would he rate the current India team, the vice-captain said, "I am not much into ratings. I am not a great believer in that. I am happy that in the last 2-3 years the team has grown as a unit. Many youngsters have comethrough and experienced players have raised the bar. It is a good sign and shows that the team is moving in the right direction."

Recalling the team's performance in Pakistan, he said "the Samsung Cup was a dream for a lot of the guys and the results were an added bonus. The support we received from the crowd and the fans inspired the team to play good cricket. It was one of the best series that I have played in."

Dravid, who has been keeping wickets in One-dayers on almost regular basis after the World Cup, said it was necessary to look at the option of having a regular wicketkeeper-batsman in the long run.

"In the long run we need to look at a regular wicketkeeper-batsman, Parthiv has developed well and did well in Pakistan. Hopefully he will be able to take it up. When the new series starts we may consider that but it will be the decision of the team management."

Dravid, flanked by other members of Team Samsung - Anil Kumble, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh, Parthiv Patel and Irfan Pathan -- said he had no problems in handing back the captaincy for the series-deciding match to Sourav Ganguly.

"I always knew that I was only a stand-in. I was just doing it on a match-to-match basis. I was happy to have Ganguly back for the last match."

Asked to comment on Ganguly's view that the win in Adelaide, Australia, was more special than the victory in Pakistan, Dravid said, "every player has his own personal viewpoint. Each one feels differently. Both the series werespecial. As far as I am concerned, this was probably one of the best series."

The stylish right-hander did not think that the toss was a crucial factor in any of the Test matches in Pakistan saying that a quality batting side should be able to see through the first session when the wicket helps the bowlers.

"I don't think toss was crucial. If you are a good side, a quality side, you must get through that first session. But I must give credit to the bowlers who took advantage of the conditions."

The vice-captain also explained the reasons for the one-sided margins that saw all the three Test matches ending in almost four days.

"In the first Test we just outbatted them. Veeru (Sehwag) just massacred them. They were under pressure to avoid a follow-on and we managed to win. In the second Test, we didn't bat well and the wicket also did a bit. They bowled well. Basically the team batting first needed to get big scores orif one was bowling, get the opposition out for 220-odd."

Dravid burst into laughter when a reporter wanted his reaction on being the most successful vice-captain. "Last four years have been the most successful for me and I hope it continues that way."

Dravid defended the team's decision to avoid the fans and media at the airport after their triumphant return to Delhi.

"We did not take the decision. We did not know who all were waiting. But at such times there is a bit of chaos and mayhem, you must realise that things go out of control in such situations. However, we are thankful for the support we have received from the media right through the series. The decision was out of our hands."

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