I am a better player now: Dravid

A team-man to the core, Rahul Dravid says that he is a better one-day player now, having "adjusted" to his new position in the batting order which demands strokeplay.

india Updated: Mar 13, 2003 16:44 IST

A team-man to the core, Indian vice-captain Rahul Dravid says that he is a better one-day player now, having "adjusted" to his new position in the batting order which demands strokeplay.

With skipper Sourav Ganguly batting at number three in the World Cup, the technically-solid Dravid has been pushed to the number five position where he generally has no choice but to go for his shots. But the stylish batsman is not complaining and sees some positives in going down the batting order.

"I am a better one-day player now. Earlier I batted at number three and instruction to me was to bat 50 overs. Now I bat at number five or six and many a time, I just have to go for my shots."

Dravid, who batted for the most part of his career at first down, gave the spot to Ganguly as the team management decided to allow Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag open the innings during the World Cup.

Dravid has not only adjusted in his batting slot but also in other areas to help out the Indian team. He said seniors in the side like him should guide the young guns to work hard.

"As a senior you basically like to set an ideal example for the youngsters in the side. You have to show everyone is prepared to do the hard rounds. We as seniors have to put our hands ups."

Despite all his efforts, at times Dravid gives the impression that he is struggling to accelerate the scoring.

"It really depends on a lot of factors. There are times when the ball hits the middle of the bat then there are times when you struggle. One can't really explain this. Even Sachin Tendulkar wouldn't be having as great a day as he had against Pakistan all the time."

Showering praise on the three pacers - Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra, Dravid said keeping wickets to the left-arm seamers was a big challenge.

"Srinath is like a father figure to Zaheer, Nehra and Agarkar. Initially we were a bit worried but the left-arm pacemen have been brilliant. Keeping to them is both a pleasure and challenge."

Speaking on the angry reactions of fans after a poor start by the Indians at the World Cup, Dravid said only a few "crazy idiots" were responsible for what happened back home.

"It were just a few idiots out of a billion supporters. Indians are the most supported cricket team. Even the media was supportive. It's only a few crazy idiots who do such sort of things."

Dravid was undecided on the need for a psychologist in the team but advocates a physical trainer and physio for every state side at the domestic level.

"I am not sure on psychologist. I feel there shouldn't be a psychologist just for the sake of it. He should be available when a cricketer needs him.

"As for trainer and physio, that's the way to look ahead. We should have men like them in domestic cricket. Since the national team benefits from the domestic structure, youngsters should benefit from the services of such experts."

New Zealand's star all-rounder Chris Cairns admitted that the thrashing India received in his country might actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise for them.

"Maybe that series in New Zealand was good preparation to come here because they are playing some good cricket. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise for them," Cairns said.

The key for India in tomorrow's game would be the effectiveness with which the batsmen handle the New Zealand pacemen. Of course, Jacob Oram and Andre Adams have not looked even fractionally as threatening as they were on the helping tracks at home, but Bond was in prime form against Australia.

Sachin Tendulkar has put many a dangerous fast bowler in his place in this tournament and his duel with Bond tomorrow promises another absorbing contest.

With Virender Sehwag also getting some runs under his belt, there are expected to be quite a few fireworks in the opening overs.

However, Wright was not concerned about individual sideshows. "These things take care of themselves.
Sachin is perfectly capable of working out how he's going to play any bowler in this competition.
"As for Sehwag, he has had success against New Zealand and if he can bat for 80-90 balls, we are going to create big scores," Wright said.

Sehwag, the only batsman to have come out of the New Zealand tour with his reputation intact after he struck two centuries, said the team was ready to make up for the losses in New Zealand and he himself was ready for a big score.

Sehwag also pointed out that the venue, the SuperSports Park, would "uplift the morale" of the team that had beaten arch-rivals Pakistan in a memorable match at the same ground.

New Zealand's problem has been that their team has not fired as a unit. Cairns has just one 50-plus score while the support cast of Bond has been found woefully inadequate as was proved against Australia.

Interestingly, Daryl Tuffey, the player of the tournament in the home series against India, has been kept on the sidelines after playing the first game against Sri Lanka. He is most likely to be back in the playing eleven tomorrow. Another inclusion can be that of Kyle Mills, who also had troubled India at home, as New Zealand might be tempted to rest their sole spinner Daniel Vettori.

On the other hand, the Indians are performing well as a unit with the bowlers complimenting the efforts of the batsmen. The most heartening aspect has been the performance of the fast bowlers with Javagal Srinath, Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan proving to be a highly potent force.

India look unlikely to change their winning combination though Anil Kumble might get a look-in in place of Harbhajan Singh.

First Published: Mar 13, 2003 13:57 IST