'We can't take anything for granted in Australia'
Rahul Dravid reflects on his recent good run in Tests and the upcoming challenge Team India faces Down Under
Just a month shy of his 39th birthday, Rahul Dravid is enjoying the best form of his life. The Karnataka right-hand batsman is the leading scorer in Test cricket this year, with 1067 runs in 11 matches @ 59.27, having hit five centuries and three fifties.
During the recently-concluded Test series against the West Indies, he also became the second player, after Sachin Tendulkar, to cross the 13,000-run mark in Tests.
He will again be the key man as India look to win their first Test series in Australia. After all, he played a crucial role as India registered a Test victory on each of their last two tours Down Under.
Who can forget his sparkling innings of 233 that set up India's four-wicket victory at Adelaide in December 2003? That was India's first Test win in Australia in nearly 22 years. Sourav Ganguly, the captain then, summed up Dravid's contribution in one line: 'Rahul batted like god!'
Then came the famous victory at Perth in January 2008. His fluent 93 in the first innings made a major difference as India won by 72 runs.
As India look to go a step further and claim their first Test series win in Australia, the former India captain believes that, with the talent at the team's disposal, it is possible.
Ahead of his departure for Australia, Dravid spoke with Harish Kotian about his recent good run in Tests and what is needed to do succeed in a tough place like Australia.
You are getting better with age. In the last series against the West Indies you became the first batsman to go past 1000 runs in 2011 and also became the second batsman after Sachin Tendulkar to go past 13000 runs in Test cricket. You must be delighted with your recent good run going into a tough tour like Australia?
Obviously, it's nice to go into any series with a bit of form. It is nice to be playing well, and it doesn't necessarily mean you will be scoring runs. I feel I am confident and hope I can prepare well and get into some good form early. If I get good form early and get some runs early in the tour, I am sure I can make it count.
Image: Rahul Dravid
'Everyone is disappointed about what happened in England'
How important will be it to do well in Australia, especially after the disastrous showing in England, where were whitewashed 4-0 in the Tests?
It's important to do well in any case. Even if we had done well in England, we would still want to do well in Australia.
Obviously, everyone is disappointed about what happened in England and it would be nice to correct that. Also, it would be nice to get some good performances from the team because a lot of people will be watching this tour very closely.
Will going so early to Australia and getting acclimatised to the conditions help? How much of a difference will it make?
Definitely, it does make a difference. I think history shows you that when you go to a place early you seem to perform well. Hopefully, we can prepare well and do well in the Tests. It does make a difference to reach the place a few days before and getting acclimatised to the conditions.
Image: Rahul Dravid
'It's very important to enjoy the contest in Australia'
This will be your fourth tour to Australia. What is the key to succeed in a tough place like that?
I think it's backing your own game; it's being tight with your technique and enjoying it. It's very important to enjoy the contest in Australia. It is going to be tough; it's going to be a challenge, both on and off the field, so it will be really important to enjoy the contest.
You have scored two centuries against Australia and both were part of memorable victories, the 180 in Kolkata in 2001, and the 233 in Adelaide in 2003. Which innings do you like more and why?
It's hard to rate them or choose one of them. Both of them are special to me; both were good knocks. Both gave me a lot of personal satisfaction and the result of the team also was the right result. So it is hard to pick one or the other.
Image: Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar
'Excited about the bowling attack'
The Australian team has undergone a lot of changes in the last few years. It doesn't look as strong as those we have witnessed in the past. Would you say this is India's best chance to win their first Test series Down Under?
I don't think we can take anything for granted in Australia. We got to believe that we have a chance, but we also know that we will have to play very well to win. It is not just going to happen and we will have to play very well. If we don't play well, we are going to get beaten; it is as simple as that.
The last time we met, you told me that bowling will determine our Test future. Are you happy with the quality of young bowlers coming through in Tests in India? Won't the young bowlers have it tough against the Australian batting line-up in their own backyard?
We do have young bowlers; they are talented, exciting and have pace. I am certainly excited about the bowling attack. And with Zaheer Khan coming back, his experience will definitely help this attack and, hopefully, if everyone stays fit we will put ourselves in a position to take 20 wickets.
Image: Umesh Yadav