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Dravid is hopeful for first Test against SA

The Indian captain says he has started practice to be able to take the field at Wanderers.

india Updated: Dec 06, 2006 19:33 IST

The embattled Indian cricket team was offered a ray of hope on Wednesday with batting mainstay Rahul Dravid stating that he should be fit for the first Test beginning from December 15, 2006.

The Indian captain, laid low by a freak finger injury since the Cape Town one-dayer on November 26, 2006 said he had started batting practice to be able to take the field in the opening Test at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.

"I am hopeful of playing in the first Test as I have started batting a little. I would look to have at least two good batting sessions in the lead up to the Test," he said on the eve of the four-day warm-up game against Rest of South Africa on Wednesday.

The news was, however, not that great on the front of Munaf Patel, who was sent to Johannesburg on Wednesday for further medical opinion on his sore ankle.

"Patel hasn't improved as much as we thought but there are still eight days to the first Test and we are hoping he would be alright," Dravid said.

Looking back at India's failure in the one-day series, Dravid felt their cause was not helped by a few batsmen who came to South Africa struggling for form which only got worse by conditions and some hostile fast bowling.

"I can't fault our batsmen for effort but we were not in the best of forms coming to South Africa and it has only been accentuated by conditions and bowling as they have faced on this tour."

"In a sense we have been better in Tests in recent times than in one-dayers so the boys could derive confidence from it. We won in the West Indies and have an experienced batting line-up so there is no reason why they can't come good."

Dravid took the opportunity to plead for more organised tours at a junior and youth level from India to countries such as South Africa for the youngsters to be better prepared for future.
"Other countries have stolen a march over us in this regard and have been sending their youngsters to train in sub-continent conditions.

"I remember (England batsman) Alistair Cook got a hundred against us in the first game and it was because he had experienced the conditions before. There have been a few efforts at a lesser level but yes it would be nice if tours could be formally organised for the young talents."

The visitors never thought about having a bowling consultant for the present tour because, as Dravid put it, there was enough experience in the ranks.

"Zaheer has been in these conditions so he knows it well while Anil Kumble has bowled all over the world so they could pass on their experience," Dravid said.

First Published: Dec 06, 2006 18:05 IST