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No favourites, no underdogs: Dravid

The skipper rejected suggestions of players being under pressure because of the emotions involved on both sides.

india Updated: Jan 07, 2006 02:01 IST

The sharp decline in all the hype and hoopla that usually surrounds an India-Pakistan series notwithstanding, Indian skipper Rahul Dravid said from a player's point of view the excitement and the desire to do well is very much there.

"Maybe, from the media's point of view the interest is less because we have been playing too often. But for a player it never really changes because you want to do well in each and every game you play," said Dravid in his first interaction with the media here.

"The previous tour was the first time in the last 14 years so there was a lot of excitement and lots of things happening outside," he said. "But from a player's perspective it hasn't really changed. Every foreign tour is pretty exciting and we have a few players who are on their first tour abroad. They would like to make the most of the experience of travelling abroad and soaking in the atmosphere. So, there is a huge amount of expectation and excitement within the side," the Indian skipper added.

Dravid also rejected suggestions of players being under pressure in the series because of the emotions involved on both sides of the border. "As good international cricketers, you have to forgot the external issues irrespective of what they are. Good international teams and good players are able to focus on their cricket, focus on themselves, focus on their performance and not let the external issues get to them.

"Irrespective of whether there is a buzz or excitement, for a player individually and for a team, performance is the most important thing," he said.

Dravid also refused to read too much into Inzamam-ul-Haq's statement that India would go into the series as favourites. "To my way of thinking, there are no favourites and no underdogs. All that is only for the press. International teams know pretty well that it's only the performance on the day that matters. That's what decides the winner," he pointed out.

On his part, the Indian captain predicted a close series. "Pakistan has a good bowling attack, but we have a good batting line up. We have played Pakistan bowlers at various stages before and sometimes they have done well while we have also done well on occasions. It has been an even contest so far. So, I think, it will be a good, interesting contest," he said. Dravid also made it clear that the Indians will not be thinking of Inzamam or Soaib Akhtar as the 'dangermen'. "Inzamam-ul-Haq is a great player who has been doing well over the years. But it's not just Inzamam that we are looking at. There are others like Salman Butt, Mohd. Yusuf, Younis Khan who are all good players. We look forward to treat each one of their batsmen on par," he said.

India take on Pak ‘A’

The Indian team would be eager to utilise the three-day warm-up game against Pakistan 'A' beginning here on Saturday to solve a few problems ahead of the Test series. This will give the team management an opportunity to solve their opening problems at least.

Only twelve members of the 16 are available for the game against Pak 'A', which is led by Hasan Raza, and includes familiar faces like Imran Farhat and Umar Gul.

First Published: Jan 07, 2006 00:49 IST