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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Batting still a concern, admits Dravid

Batting still a concern, admits Dravid

July 26, 2007 22:13 IST

After the great escape at Lord's, India goes into the second Test at Nottingham without any outdoor practice. Frequent spells of rain since Wednesday deprived the Indian and England teams outdoor net sessions, vital to gauge the conditions ahead of a Test. Practice was reduced to indoors, at the ECB National Cricket Academy in Loughborough.

As expected, India go in with the same team that played the first Test, with Yuvraj Singh ready to replace Sourav Ganguly, who is under some doubt after being down with a sore back.

"Sourav is progressing well. Obviously, we didn't have any opportunity to have any outdoor nets either yesterday or today. He is going to take part in a full practice today and we will have a clearer picture at the end of it. But he is feeling a lot better than he did yesterday and so we picked him as a part of our 12 which is the same even as the last game and Yuvraj Singh is in the 12. So we will be selecting our team from this 12," Dravid said at Trent Bridge cricket ground on Thursday.

India's major worry ahead of the second Test is their batting, which failed to deliver in the first Test. With rain expected to mar this match too, the conditions for batting will not get better. The batting line- up boasts of big names in Sachin Tendulkar, Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, but it's time they delivered on the big stage.

Their failure to notch big scores at Lord's against an untested bowling attack was the main reason for India's poor showing, a fact Dravid admitted.

"We would like more runs in the middle order. The positives that we took from the last game was our bowling. Definitely our batting is an area we know we can improve on. It is something we need to get better at. In the next couple of Test matches we should be able to better than at Lord's and we will need to do that," he said.

India's captain stated the example of the last tour in 2002, when India fought back to draw the series 1-1 after losing the first Test at Lord's.

"We were in a similar situation in our last tour. We lost at Lord's and then we didn't start particularly well at Nottingham, but we turned it around in the second innings here and then went on to have a very good summer with the bat. It took us a bit of time even then to start off and it has been no different this time around.

"But, hopefully, I think the guys have experience, as you said, and there is a lot of quality and it is a question of producing that quality in the middle," Dravid said.

India have played three matches at this venue, but are yet to register a victory here. While they lost the first match played in 1959, the last two have ended in draws. India's last match here nearly five years ago saw a vintage performance from their batsmen - many of whom are still in the team.

Dravid argued that while the team disappointed in their last game at Lord's they are still capable of producing a good showing in the second match.

"I agree that we didn't perform well in the last match. Every match is important and you need to perform irrespective of your reputation. There is not much added pressure because every time you play for India there is always the pressure of performing and of responsibility to win matches.

"Everyone in the team is under pressure. It is hard to qualify as to who is under more pressure or less pressure. For me, the pressure of performing has been right there since I started and it has never changed," Dravid said.

He admitted that even though India managed to escape at Lord's, the draw still gave a lot of confidence to the team.

"A draw is never really a good result. But in the circumstances, I think we got away with some level of confidence. There are some positives that we can take from that game, especially our bowling. I think our bowling was pretty good right through the game, except for the first one hour.

"The heartening thing for us is that we are not behind in this series and there is a couple of games to go and I think it would have been tougher to fight back from being behind in the series," he said.

The weather has not been encouraging as far as the match is concerned. Already persistent heavy rain throughout the day on Thursday has left the outfield completely soaked.

Dravid said frequent breaks in play due to bad weather can sometimes be disruptive for the team, especially the batsmen.

"It's a lot tougher on the batting side. The bowlers can come back and get a bit of breather. It is not an ideal situation as it can upset the momentum, it can upset the rhythm of the game but I think you got to get used to it. When you come to tour England, in some ways it is part of getting used to the conditions. It is probably been more this time than any other time that I toured here.

"You do expect to have interruptions of the rain during the course of the day. The day can be pretty long, sometimes you can have play till 730 in the evening, that in itself poses a challenge of concentration and coming back the next day and starting at 11am. So in its own ways those are part and parcels of touring England and something you need to embrace, enjoy and get used to," he said.

Dravid, who along with the senior batsmen, failed to deliver at Lord's received a lot of criticism. He believes that only way to answer critics is by performing consistently.

"I think when you are playing international sport, you are constantly being judged all the time and that is the part and parcel of the sport. And if you don't perform and your team doesn't do well, then you got to hear this from time to time. The only way to answer criticism is to perform.

"And if you don't perform then people have to take their course. It is part and parcel of being an international cricketer, it is not something to worry about or fear," he said.

Harish Kotian in Nottingham