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Dravid backs Sachin to give his all

Expecting that Tendulkar has a good tour, the skipper says, "Sachin probably realises that this is probably the last time he will tour the UK", reports Rohit Mahajan.

cricket Updated: Jun 27, 2007 23:34 IST
Rohit Mahajan

One day before the first ODI against South Africa, the Indian camp was in disarray — flu had hit the team hard and TV headlines back home were already screaming that they were nine wickets down before a single ball had been bowled.

Against this backdrop, the defeat in the first match, on probably the coldest day after the team landed here, does not look disastrous.

India pushed South Africa to the limit; however, the fact remains that that the Proteas never looked like losing —India fell short by 30-odd runs.

Rahul Dravid agreed. "We fought hard after losing two early wickets," Dravid said. "We did well to get to 180 in 40 overs with two wickets down, but with eight wickets in hand, we would have liked more than 60 runs off the last 10 10-15 more would have been par for the course. They bowled well in the death, and some good shots went straight to fielders."

Sachin Tendulkar's dismissal on 99, when four odd overs still to be bowled, hurt on two counts — he fell on the verge of his 42nd ODI century and two, the Indians could have done with some big shots from the master in the end.

"But it happens, when you're going for runs, trying to steal any single run you can get," Dravid said. "Sachin probably realises, like everyone else, that this is probably the last time he will tour the UK. He is very keen to have a good tour of England," the skipper added, saying he expected Tendulkar to have a successful tour of England.

When defending the total, India did make a fight of it, didn't they? "We played some good cricket but just couldn't pip them at the post," he said.

Chawla got some words of praise. "Today was the first time he played against top opposition — I'm not saying Bangladesh and Ireland are not good — but SA is a more experienced side," Dravid said. "He bowled very well, under the conditions. It's cold and for a leg-spinner, it's tough to grip the ball."

Did the skipper feel that playing two spinners —through the lack of pace options due to the flu —wasn't too bad? "Well, if everyone had been fit, we would have gone with an extra quick because of the conditions," said Dravid.

"We'd called in a fast bowler (Rakesh Patel), but he was just out of league cricket and to pick him ahead of the regular guys was not right."

The conditions too haven't been right, and Dravid is hoping things would look up on the weather front. "These games come quick and fast, don't they?" the captain said with a rueful grin. "Just two more before the second game, and both Sreesanth and Agarkar are bad…"

"Dhoni should be okay by the next game, but you never know. With Ishant and Bose, we should have some cover in the fast bowling department," he added.

"You just need to go through six days to get all right," he ended with a sigh.