All set for clean sweep

Updated on May 15, 2007 03:30 AM IST
But inclement weather can truncate the game and hence threatens to whitewash Team India's plans, reports Akshay Sawai.
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ByAkshay Sawai, Chittagong

You've heard of Monday morning blues. Here in Chittagong it was Monday morning green. It's been raining since Sunday night and everything's lush.

India had to conduct their preparation for Tuesday's third, inconsequential One-day International against Bangladesh in the indoor facility at the Bir Sreshta Shahid Ruhul Amin stadium as the field was slushy. The Bangladesh team arrived at the venue in the morning, just like the Indians, but left soon. They planned to train in the afternoon. Given that it can rain anytime in Chittagong, there's a question mark-shaped cloud hanging over match day as well.

But assuming play takes place, assuming he is not rested, Yuvraj Singh better be ready.

Indian captain Rahul Dravid told reporters on Monday that the reason he has batted down at No. 5 on this tour is because he wants players like Yuvraj to play higher and take responsibility. The Punjab left-hander has batted at No. 4 here.

"I've felt that for a while now," Dravid said after the indoor nets. "My batting down the order is a way of giving players like Yuvraj more responsibility. I hope that they can kick on and establish themselves in those positions. Having said that, if the conditions demand it, I'll move up again. We might go abroad, wickets might do a bit and I might have to bat up the order. But as of now, I want to try and ensure that they take responsibility, play more overs and get their confidence."

Yuvraj has yet to catch fire on this tour. He scored one and 24 in the first two ODIs. Batsman Robin Uthappa and left-arm seamer RP Singh will also have to be ready on Tuesday. Dravid said that India would leave Sreesanth and Zaheer Khan out of the 12.

"Sreesanth is injured and Zaheer bowled a lot in the last two games. We need to conserve him for the Test series," Dravid said. "Robin will bat at No. 3."

Asked if that was rough on Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who came good at No. 3 in the first two matches, Dravid replied, "Dhoni kept wickets and played long innings in the first two matches. The Test matches are coming up soon after the One-dayers where he'll have an important role to play. At times you need to step off the pedal a little bit with people."

To a question as to how much should be read into India's series win, Dravid said, "We had to play some very good cricket to win 2-0. At the same time, we know that there are bigger challenges that await us later in the year. But considering the disappointment of the World Cup, this is a good way to start."

In the course of another answer, Dravid let it be known that the players weren't affected by the extreme reactions of "people around the team" (read "media"). The moderate in him spoke out. "We tend to go to the extremes," he said. "When we lose, everything is bad. When we win, everything's great. But that's a creation of people around the team. The players know better. Within the team, we keep things in balance."

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