Rahul Dravid opted to send Irfan Pathan up the order instead of giving his out-of-form batsmen some time in the middle because he was not quite sure how they would fare and wanted quick runs while the ball was still hard.
“I thought it was important to get off to a good start, maybe a flier, even though we were chasing a small target,” the Indian captain said. “As you saw, this was the kind of wicket where as the ball gets softer, it gets tougher to score. It keeps low, spins more and I thought that if Irfan could go out there and get us some quick runs, it would help.”
Interestingly, Dravid also admitted that he wrestled with the decision whether to play Pathan at all in this game, given the latter’s poor form with the ball in the recent past.
“I mulled over the decision for a while and then decided to go with him. I wanted to go with someone who I knew could come up with a match-winning performance when needed and the number of games Irfan has won for us is testimony to his ability. He is a big-match player.”
Dravid also backed Virender Sehwag, saying that the opener played as he plays and if he does fire, he could probably win India the World Cup. However, even while saying that he believed in his struggling batsmen and thought them a “classy” outfit, he said they needed to snap out of it. “It looks like we’re struggling because key players have not got runs. But we’ve got some confidence from winning and I’m hoping that this break will help, people will go and get some quality practice."
Yet, he was quite adamant that there was no real problem in the game on Sunday, despite India losing a bunch of wickets. “I don't think there was any panic, only perhaps that we lost two wickets too many at the end in Dhoni and Raina. For this track, I think four wickets would have been par for the course. If you have to look for negatives, you’ll find them but I think it was a good result, our bowlers did an exceptional job.”
Someone who agrees that the Indian bowling made all the difference is Andrew Flintoff. The England skipper also said that while he was obviously disappointed by the result, it was still too early in the tournament for it to get to him. “It’s only the first game and no one is disillusioned by any stretch of imagination,” he said. “I’m pleased with the character we showed, the way we came back into the game.”
He gave credit to Pathan and Munaf Patel, who picked up his first ever Man of the Match award. “They bowled fine spells, exploited the wicket, got the ball to swing, put it in the right places,” Flintoff said.