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Key players need to perform: Rahul Dravid

The skipper blames his key players for team's recent slump and says it is high time they deliver.

india Updated: Nov 15, 2006 17:18 IST

In a grim message ahead of the big engagements, including the World Cup, captain Rahul Dravid on Saturday sought to blame his 'key players' for the Indian team's slump and said it was high time they delivered.

Dravid said India's lack of consistency in recent tournaments was largely due to the collective failure of the top players and the team could regain its winning momentum only if that aspect was corrected.

"I just think that we need to get performances from lot of our key players. Last season when we were doing really well, lot of players in the team were performing consistently and were sort of playing if not up to their potential, sometimes even above their potential", Dravid told PTI in an interview in Bangalore.

"For the last 2-3 series we have not been able to get consistent performances from most of our key players. That's something you need to correct. There's quality in the team but we need to get back into putting in consistent personal performances which will help the team", he said.

The Indian team has been going through a lean phase, particularly in the shorter version of the game since the tour of the West Indies in April this year.

The team lost the one-day series in the Carribean, failed to reach the final of the DLF Cup tri-series in Malaysia and were knocked out of the recent Champions Trophy before the semi-final stage.

Commenting on the team's performance in the Champions Trophy, the stylish batsman said it was disappointing not to reach the semi-final or final of the tournament, especially because it was held in India.

"Obviously we could have done better. It would have been nice to reach the semi-finals or final of the tournament especially because it was in India", he said.

"But we cannot do much about it now. We have got to look ahead at trying to get better and keep improving our performances from here on until the World Cup".

Dravid acknowledged that the return of ace spinner Anil Kumble in the one-day squad will definitely help the team during its gruelling tour of South Africa.

"Obviously Anil's experience and his knowledge will hopefully help us. We always had him in our plans. But we need to manage Anil in terms of the amount of cricket he plays.

"Leading into the World Cup, now we can give him enough games so that he goes into the big to urnament ready and fit to play", he said.

Dravid said it was important for the team to do well in South Africa as it would give the players the confidence to do well in the World Cup.

"Both the Test and one-day series in South Africa are very important. We haven't done very well in South Africa in the past and we would like to put in good performances in both versions there. That would give us a lot of confidence leading into the World Cup. More

The Indian cricketers leave for South Africa on Monday for a 54-day tour which will include a five-match one-day series and three Tests.

Dravid, however, cautioned his players not to worry about the World Cup too much at this stage.

"We have got to focus on each game, try and play at our best, take one game at a time and by the time World Cup comes we should be in good shape", he observed.

Asked whether India's tour of the West Indies earlier this year will help the team during the World Cup, Dravid said he was optimistic about his team's prospects in the World Cup.

"It was nice to do well in the West Indies, especially after such a long time. There were very good performances by the boys. In spite of losing the one-day series I think the team played really well to regroup", the Karnataka batsman said.

"Even in the first Test, we were behind in the first innings by about 145 runs but we nearly went on to win that match. From there on we pretty much controlled the whole series. That was a good performance by the team."

"Hopefully we can have a bit more of the same when we go to South Africa. I am pretty hopeful and confident that we should have a good series and good future", he added.

First Published: Nov 12, 2006 12:55 IST