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Middle order batting worries Dravid

Rahul Dravid said the middle-order batsmen would have to raise their performance by a few notches if his team hoped to prevail over a "quality opposition" in the crucial match on Thursday.

india Updated: Nov 05, 2003 17:39 IST

Indian captain Rahul Dravid on Wednesday said the middle-order batsmen would have to raise their performance by a few notches if his team hoped to prevail over a "quality opposition" like New Zealand in the crucial triangular series cricket match here on Thursday.

"Yes, the middle order batting is an area we have to work on. We have to do better while batting second. We have to concentrate on excelling in all departments against the Kiwis, who are a quality opposition," Dravid told newspersons after a practice session in the Barabati stadium.

However, the skipper attributed India's defeat at the hands of the Australians in an earlier match in Mumbai to "tough" conditions.

"The conditions were not easy for a team batting second. They were tough."

In the same breath, he refused to give a categoric reply to a query whether there were plans to change the batting order.

"Not that I know of. But we have to be as flexible as possible. I'll asses the situation as the game goes on," the unflappable cricketer said ahead of the first-ever floodlit game at the venue.

Dravid said his side would finalise the playing eleven on the morrow after taking a hard look at the existing conditions. "All the 14 players are in with a chance."

He also admitted that the New Zealanders had the advantage of batting very deep down the order. MORE


"They (New Zealand) indeed bat deep. But we have also good batsmen down the order though they may not have come up to expectations," Dravid said.

Commenting on the performance of the pacers particularly Zaheer Khan who went for 64 runs from seven overs in Mumbai, Dravid said the left-arm seamer had the potential to bowl better in the initial overs.

"I don't think that he is still carrying the thrashing he received in the opening over of the World Cup final (against Australia). But he himself will admit that he is capable of bowling better, especially in the opening overs.

"He did well in Gwalior but something went wrong in Mumbai. He is working hard and hopefully, we will do better in the coming matches in the first 15 overs. Because that is a key area when we are bowling."

Dravid also strongly supported the inclusion of Parthiv Patel as a specialist wicket-keeper in the one-day side. "It is important to have a specialist wicket-keeper. I don't mind fitting into the role on odd days. But having a specialist should be the ultimate aim," he said.

Dravid, who is likely to return the reins of the team to Sourav Ganguly after tomorrow's match, said that captaining the Indian team was a hard job. Ganguly is expected to return for the match against Australia at Bangalore next week after recovering from a painful abscess on the left thigh.

"It's a very hard job, I have done it only for a few games. But to be honest I take things as they come. And it is not for me to pass judgement on my own performance," he said when asked to do a self-evaluation of his captaincy.

On tomorrow's match, Dravid described the Barabati pitch as "very good" but added that the ball might keep low as the game progresses. He, however, refused to attach much importance to the toss factor saying that it would not be a crucial one.

On opener Virender Sehwag's awful run with the bat in the triseries so far, the captain said he was not perturbed.

"He is a quality player. He is hitting the ball well at the nets. We hope that he scores runs in tomorrow's game."

Dravid said seamer Ashish Nehra, who has returned to the team after being sidelined for eight months due to an ankle injury sustained during the World Cup in South Africa earlier this year, was bowling his heart out in the nets and stood a decent chance of making it to the final eleven.

"He is now fully fit and bowling well. It is good to see him back in the top 14."

The skipper also said that he saw a definite role for left-arm spinner Murali Kartik in the scheme of things. "He has been in and out of the Indian team for some time now. Hopefully, he will do well if given the opportunity," he said.

Asked about the floodlit arrangments in the stadium, Dravid said "it looks good. Yesterday we practiced under lights and found the arrangements okay," he said.

First Published: Nov 05, 2003 17:39 IST