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Dravid in doubt is news!

Indian skipper would have made a great diplomat, but even he failed with words in Abu Dhabi, says Atul Sondhi.

india Updated: Apr 19, 2006 17:09 IST

Defeat against Pakistan will not take away the sheen from what India has achieved this season, said Dravid in the run-up to the Abu Dhabi matches.

Perhaps he thought it was a good pre-emptive move against possible defeat and criticism, as Pakistani's are tough nut to crack.

May be the Indian skipper did not want his troops to go back disappointed after such a splendid season. After all, how many times have India beaten some top teams, so decisively? Why allow a 1-1 or 0-2 verdict against Pak to spoil the mood?

But psychologically, it was not a very smart move after all.  Wounded warriors in the opposition camp must have sensed nervousness among the Indians, a feeling of insecurity that a loss against archrivals could easily sweep aside all the gains made in the recent past.

Javed Miandad, who two decades ago had hit that famous six, once again hit the nail on the head when he said that there was no jinx in India's run of defeats at Sharjah. ''The Indians were simply afraid of losing,'' he asserted. 

The same disturbing mindset, if there was any, was visible in Dravid's pre-series defense at Abu Dhabi as India lost the first battle.  Few more issues have come out of the first encounter. 

India is not yet on peak

It looks as if Team India is taking Graham Gooch's comment too seriously that it should guard against peaking too early for the World Cup 2007.

The first match against Pakistan would have allayed the apprehension of Gooch and everybody else, who subscribes to ''peak in time'' philosophy, that it is certainly not the case.

Quite likely that India are smart enough to lose a few matches to keep the opposition in dark about their real strengths, and any chinks in the armour.

One wonders what Gooch's advice to Australia or South Africa would be!

Blame it on Tendulkar's absence

India may have missed Tendulkar more as a bowler than a batsman. Especially when Inzamam and Younis Khan were going so strong. The Pakistan skipper has lost his wicket to Sachin Tendulkar seven times in ODIs.

Among the others who have dismissed Inzamam the most are Sanath Jayasuriya and Venkatesh Prasad (8 times each), Chaminda Vaas (7 times), and Nathan Astle and Shane Warne (6 times each). So India may have missed Sachin a great deal.

Since Inzamam looks so casual against part-time slow bowlers like Tendulkar, it would have been a good idea to give the ball to Yuvraj Singh. But he was not even tried!

Heroes take time to mature

Robin Uthappa became the most successful batting debutant for Team India when he played that marvellous knock of 86 against England. The Karnataka player turned an instant hero, and looking from the frenzied response to the knock, it appeared that the god had answered to Indian prayers for a class opener.

But Rome was not built in a day. It takes time and few good innings to achieve the kind of stature that the likes of Raina and Dhoni today boast of.

Unnecessary media hype will only go on to put too much pressure on the young lad. Similar kind of response had put extreme pressure on Yuvraj in his first year on international circuit. 

After a superb 84 in his debut innings against Australia at Nairobi in ICC Knockout Tournament, Yuvraj had to wait for full 15 innings before he hit another 50 plus knock.

Lower order won't always fire

It is time the upper-order takes responsibility, especially against the teams in form. They should score enough, and more quickly.

A run-rate of just about 3.6 while entering into the 40th over is certainly not good enough. Not against a team full of big hitters. More so if you lose as many as five wickets in the process.

In fact, the bottom five partnerships still acquitted themselves in terms of run rate, aggregating over five runs per over in the last ten overs.

When in doubt, bat second

On this sluggish pitch, a first innings score of about 230-240 could have been more than a handful. So India did not miss the target by a mile. But considering India have had so much success chasing second, it would not have been a bad idea to put Pakistan in.

In any case, Pakistan batsmen would have been on the back-foot on an untested wicket, with the recent 1-4 drubbing in the back of their mind.

Only this February, all five matches in Pakistan were won by the chasing pack.  So batting first after winning the toss was always going to be against the recent run of history. India may have paid the price for it.