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Dravid feels no pressure as captain
Harish Kotian in Mumbai | February 27, 2007 20:15 IST
Rahul Dravid heaped praise on his pace bowlers on Tuesday, saying the performance of the young lot over the last few months has given the team much hope for the World Cup.
"Munaf [Patel] has had a little bit of problem with his injuries in South Africa, but he has come out of that really well. He has been probably our best one-day bowler and the most economical in the last 15 games. So there are really no concerns in that department. Sree [S Sreesanth] is coming along nicely. He is a young bowler and a wicket-taking bowler and an exciting prospect," Dravid told reporters at the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai.
"Zaheer Khan and Ajit Agarkar have been bowling really well. Irfan gives us a good all-round option. He is coming back and he needs a bit more bowling and he will get that bowling in the next few games. So I am quite happy with the pace bowling stocks as they are," added Dravid.
Zaheer Khan, with 117 ODIs under his belt, and Ajit Agarkar, with 180, will lead India's relatively young pace attack, comprising Sreesanth, Munaf and Zaheer, who between them have played only 117 one-dayers.
Dravid also highlighted the fact that playing in an important tournament like the World Cup as a captain would put no additional pressure on him.
He first played in the 1999 World Cup, where he scored 461 runs in eight matches at an average of 65.85. He had an equally good time in the 2003 tournament, when he scored 318 runs in 11 matches at 63.60 as India finished runners-up to Australia.
"I have never viewed any tournament as more pressure or less pressure if you are a player or captain. Obviously, as the captain, you have a few more responsibilities, a few things to look at. But the hunger to perform, the hunger to do well for your team, it doesn't matter whether I was the captain or the vice-captain or just a player.
"I mean the goal is to play good cricket and it has never changed. It is about going there and playing some good cricket and for the team to do well. It's about going there and playing some good tough, fighting cricket," he said.
Dravid, who was appointed captain in October 2005, says his mindset will always be the same, whether as a captain or player.
"It doesn't make a difference to me. I still feel the same pressure and desire to do well for the team. As a captain there are more responsibilities, more decisions to make, more things to look into. That is probably going to be the only change. But in terms of my mindset, it will never be different whether I am the player or the captain," Dravid said.
The 34-year-old is aware that his third shot at the top title in world cricket could be his last, yet he says it's not right to measure his career on whether he wins the World Cup or not.
"In one-day cricket, the World Cup is a showpiece event, a big event that you want to win. But I don't think you base on your career and everything on winning a World Cup. There is a lot more that goes on in a career, a lot that you achieve over a period of time to just hang everything on basis of a one-day tournament that happens in two months. It's nice to win, a great achievement to win and we will try our best to win, but that is all it is," he said.
Dravid dispelled any injury concerns about the team, saying all the players in the squad are fully fit and ready for the challenge.
"With around 20-25 days for the first game against Bangladesh [on March 17] some of the minor niggles should have been sorted out by then. I think even now they have been sorted out. I don't think we are taking anyone to the World Cup who is not fit," he said.
He believes that to be successful in an important tournament like the World Cup, you need the right kind of balance between youth and experience.
"If you look at all teams, they have got a few young players coming through, they have got a few experienced players coming through. I think a good blend of youth and experience the World Cup is all about. You will need the old wise heads in some situations, and you will need some sparks of energy and enthusiasm. So you need to get that right sort of balance," Dravid said.
And it is no secret that he is hoping the veterans, in Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble, would inspire youngsters like Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik to play out of their skins. In short, Dravid wants a contribution from each of his players in the 15-member squad and feels everyone would get an opportunity somewhere in the tournament.
"There is going to be some interesting cricket and you will find the team that finds people who can raise their hands up and perform under pressure are the ones that you would see make it to the semi-finals," the right-hander said.
India, placed in Group B, begin their campaign in the World Cup with their first match against Bangladesh on March 17.
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