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'Indian team still needs to improve'

When you play good teams, you keep improving, said Indian captain Rahul Dravid.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2006 13:15 IST
SS Ramaswamy (PTI)
SS Ramaswamy (PTI)

Captain Rahul Dravid is not rankled by the absence of a genuine allrounder in the team and says the encouraging development of some of his utility players had more or less filled up the void.

Dravid says it is not easy to find all-rounders of the calibre of Kapil Dev or Imran Khan and the best option in the given situation was to develop players from within the ranks to suit the team's needs.

He has been quite impressed by the flexibility shown by some of the players during the tour of Pakistan and singled out Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Irfan Pathan for special praise.

"I don't really look at the people you should have missed. Anyone would dream of having a Kapil Dev or Imran Kahn in the team. But these are once in a generation cricketers, you don't find them easily," Dravidsaid after the conclusion of the tour of Pakistan.

"I am quite happy with the flexibility that some of the players have shown. (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni is an all-rounder in what he does. Irfan Pathan is developing into a good cricketer. Ajit Agarkar can bat, even people like Harbhajan Singh and lower down Zaheer Khan are working hard on their batting."

The Indian captain also said developing the fifth bowling option would be one of his main challenges ahead of the World Cup next year.

"We need to give Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, and may be Suresh Raina, more opportunity to bowl in a match, that's my challenge," Dravid explained.

"The challenge for us is to develop some of these young boys and to see how we can make them better players, give them different opportunities and let them grow. I think if we can develop some of these young boys into better cricketers by the time the World Cup comes, we will have a strong team."

The Bangalore batsman also said he did not believe in resting on past laurels or failures and was already looking forward to future challenges.

The disappointment of losing the Test series against Pakistan did not linger on with Dravid just as the joy of winning the one-day series against the archrivals did not stay for long.

"The disappointment does not linger on. You're going to have some disappointments along the way. You have got to pick yourself up and move on. I can't change the past. I have got to look ahead," he said.

"We celebrated the success in one-dayers. Even that's in the past. We got to move on from there as well, keep improving and keep getting better. I don't think the disappointment stays too long with me."

"We played good cricket in first two Test matches, especially in batting, considering the kind of pressure we were under to chase down scores like 600. We had a tough ten-day period, especially with the (Karachi) Test match. I don't think we played badly in the first one-dayer. We just had a tough Test match. Other than that, it's been a very good tour and a successful one.

"The spirit has been really good and I am quite happy with it. But we need to keep getting better," Dravid said.

He said it was the failure to negotiate the new ball which cost India the Karachi Test.

"We could have played the new ball better. That's where we lost in both the innings."

When asked about the Pakistan recovery after being down 39 for six in the match, the skipper said "if I had won the toss and someone said we would knock Pakistan out for 240, well I would take that.

"Like I said, we could have batted better, posted a better first innings score, like Pakistan showed us in the second innings. It's just so sad as we had the quality of the people to do it. We had the players to do it, but just couldn't execute it."

But he added that "it was not easy to get people out once the Kookaburra ball became soft."

But Dravid maintained that the team still needed to get better at the limited-overs game.

"We still need to improve in all departments. When you play good teams you keep improving."

The Indian captain was also looking forward to taking on Michael Vaughan's Englishmen in his own backyard.

"England is a very good team and it should be an exciting challenge."

He felt that the rest given to Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh would benefit the team in the home series.

"We do have two quality spinners who have been rested. Whether or not spin plays a major role in the series would just really depend on the wicket. But I am really happy that Anil (Kumble) and Harbhajan (Singh) have got the time off and rested before the start of the England series.

"As much as we talk of putting people under pressure a lot, we also need to ensure that we give them time off to recharge themselves."

Dravid admitted that there was a concern over the amount of cricket that was being played.

"We have played a lot of cricket, something we need to be aware and conscious of as we lead into the World Cup is the amount of cricket we are playing," he said.

First Published: Feb 20, 2006 13:06 IST