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Dravid goes ga-ga over Yuvraj, Dhoni

"Yuvraj has been a stand-out. It's good to see talent like him bloom," said skipper after southpaw braved a hamstring strain to make match-winning 107.

india Updated: Feb 19, 2006 21:52 IST

Skipper Rahul Dravidon Sundayheaped praises on Yuvraj Singh, saying the the left-handed batsman had given a "stand-out performance" in the one-day series which India pocketed 4-1 in their favour.

"Yuvraj's has been a stand-out performance. He's taken his game to a new level. It's very good for him and Indian cricket. It's good to see special talent like Yuvraj bloom. The last few months have been a big turning point for him," Dravid said after the left-handed batsman braved a hamstring strain to make a match-winning unbeaten 107.

The effort fetched 24-year-old Yuvraj the man of the match and series awards.

Dravid said Yuvraj had gained in confidence after being given a regular place in the Test squad and named as vice-captain in the one-dayers due to the injury to Virender Sehwag.

"He has always been a talented youngster. He got 100s in Sri Lanka and in Zimbabwe. But the regular place he has cemented in Test cricket has given him great confidence. He was a bit unsettled earlier.

"He is now a totally different player and the job of vice captain that was entrusted to him after Virender Sehwag got injured has given him more sense of responsibility too," the Indian skipper said.

The captain also showered praise on wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni who once again came up with a pulsating knock of 77 not out off only 56 balls with four sixes and six fours to take the match away from Pakistan's grasp.

"Dhoni is special. He is averaging over 50 and his strike rate is also exceptional. He has added zing to the side. The great thing about him is that he finishes off the match for us in whatever batting order we send him in. He and Ifran (Pathan) have given us options," said the Bangalore stalwart.

"The partnership between Yuvraj and Dhoni at Lahore under lights gave us a lot of confidence. I can't single out any one of these wins as special as all of them were satisfying as we have beaten a good team at home," Dravid said.

Dravid also described today's eight-wicket victory without the services of Sachin Tendulkar and Pathan, who were rested, as a great effort by all the team members.

"To restrict Pakistan to 286 on this wicket was great and our ground fielding too was superb," he said.

Asked about the amazing turn-around in the performance of the team after the Karachi Test loss at the beginning of the month, Dravid gave credit to the entire team including the coaching and support staff.

"We were mentally strong as we knew we had played good cricket. The boys responded very well. The general energy level was very good. It was a great response from everyone concerned, the coaching, support staff, management and players after the loss. Within the group, we had confidence that we were a very good team. We were on a roll and also played very good cricket," he said.

Dravid also praised the performance of all his pace bowlers, including rookie S Sreeshanth who took four wickets today, three of them in his first three overs.

"We gave him (Sreesanth) a different challenge today, asking him to bowl first change, after having opened the attack in the first few games. We also bowled him at the death. He responded very well. We have tried to try the bowlers in different situations. Both Sreesanth and RP Singh have done very well," the Indian skipper said.

"In fact all five pacers have done very well in the series. Today Ramesh (Powar) also bowled very well (1 for 49 in 10)," he said.

Dravid said the fine display of the team in the one-day series here would give them confidence ahead of the home series that awaits them against England.

"We will carry forward the confidence in Tests against England. But Test cricket is different from one-day cricket. We have to play really well against England. There's not too much gap between the two series. We would take a few days off and get back."

The team would assemble in Nagpur on February 26, Dravid said.

Dravid refused to comment on who would open the batting for India in the forthcoming home Test series against England.

"I had not much chance to think about it. The selectors would have a say in it. I will discuss certain plans after we go home," the Indian captain told a press conference today.

Dravid had opened the batting with Virender Sehwag in the three-Test series here against Pakistan that the visitors lost 0-1 though the team had two regular openers in Gautam Gambhir and Wasim Jaffer.

First Published: Feb 19, 2006 21:09 IST