Dhoni will bat up the order, says Dravid
The skipper seeks to rubbish the notion that his batsmen will be susceptible to hostile SA bowling.india Updated: Nov 15, 2006 17:15 IST
Striking a confident note, Indian captain Rahul Dravid on Tuesday sought to rubbish the notion that his batsmen would be susceptible to hostile South African fast bowling during the 54-day tour.
Dravid said the batsmen had scored big hundreds on previous tours to the country including the 2003 World Cup and he could not see why they could not excel one more time.
"As far as I can remember, we did very well in the 2003 World Cup where most of our batsmen made major runs. On previous tours too, we had some big hundreds," Dravid told reporters on arrival here this morning.
Dravid backed up the robust defence of his batsmen by encapsulating the general performance of India in South Africa.
"Our batsmen have enjoyed batting on South African pitches because it affords you the ability to play shots. Of course there are a few shots you need to avoid but there is also a wider range of shots to choose from."
Dravid arrived with the 16-member Indian squad for the gruelling tour comprising five one-dayers and three Test matches. India have never won a Test in South Africa on three previous visits and 10 Tests and only once in a one-dayer.
Indeed, South Africa, always a pugnacious unit, are very difficult to beat in their own homeyard, losing just 14 matches out of the 70 played since their readmission to international cricket.
Dravid also said that in the absence of Yuvraj Singh, such a pillar of strength to the team in one-dayers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni would bat up the order in coming weeks.
"In Yuvraj's absence, someone like Dhoni, who has been batting a bit low, would get chance to bat up the order. Men such as Suresh Raina and Dinesh Mongia, as well as Mohammad Kaif, also have an excellent chance to make their presence felt."
Dravid hoped the seniors of the side would lead the way for the rest of the team which has had pretty ordinary days on international fields in recent past.
"Seniors have been doing their bit in passing on their information to younger lads of the team. Some of them have been here on two or three previous visits."
Top of the list in his mind was of course Sachin Tendulkar.
"Tendulkar is a class act who has been there for the last 16-17 years. He started off really well on a difficult wicket in Malaysia. If he fires similarly, it would be good for the team, as well as for the South African public to watch the great champion at his best."
The stylish Indian captain said besides the talk from seniors, a word from support staff, such as Gregory Allan King who is from East London, would also help youngsters to rise up to expectations.
"They have had also good talk with a few in the support staff like physio and trainer who can tell what conditions to expect. We have discussed those aspects of touring South Africa."
The recent success in Tests in West Indies, Dravid hoped, would inspire his men to do an encore in South Africa.
"Hopefully it would spark off consistency and we can develop a unit which could consistently take 20 wickets."
India coach Greg Chappell said his priority was to concentrate on one-dayers with the World Cup being round the corner. India are to play 13 ODIs sandwiched between now and the World Cup in March-April 2007.
Chappell said the return of ace leg-spinner Anil Kumble to the one-day fold would make a difference to the team's fortunes.
"He is coming around after a break in one-day field but he is an experienced champion who has taken over 200 wickets in this form of the game. He wouldn't take time to adjust to shorter version of the game."