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Dravid blames batsmen for defeat
March 24, 2007 04:19 IST
Skipper Rahul Dravid blamed his batsmen for India's 69-run loss to Sri Lanka on Friday, which has left them all but eliminated from the World Cup.
"I thought it (255) was a good score to chase. We had the batting, we had an extra batsman, but we kept losing wickets," Dravid said, after the match at Queen's Park Oval.
"We needed partnerships. The loss of three-four wickets early in the innings put pressure on us."
Dravid did not think the wicket was to be blamed for the batsmen's spineless display.
"It was a good wicket to bat on. There was a little bit of spin but then (Muttiah) Muralitharan turns the ball on any surface," he said.
The skipper said the bowlers, who conceded 27 extras, also could have done better.
"We tried to pitch in the right areas but it did not happen," he said.
After restricting Sri Lanka to 254 for six, India crumbled to 185 in 43.3 overs in their last engagement in Group 'B'.
The defeat meant Dravid's men had only one win from three games in the group phase.
Top two teams from each of the four groups advance to the Super Eight stage.
Sri Lanka had already booked their berth while Bangladesh, who had shocked the Indians before, will go through to Super Eight if they beat Bermuda in the final game in Group 'B' on Sunday.
Sri Lanka's record-breaking 'offie' Muttiah Muralitharan said he had proved a point to his coach Tom Moody with his stunning fielding performance.
"I wanted to prove a point to my coach. He keeps saying that I can't field inside the ring, I should be in the outfield. I think I have proved him wrong," Muralitharan said.
Muralitharan defied age and gravity to bring off a splendid catch to dismiss opener Sourav Ganguly, running yards behind at mid-on before plucking the ball out of thin air.
The 34-year old also shone with the ball, something he does routinely, returning with 3-41 that broke the back of Indian innings and earned him the man of the match award.
Muralitharan came around the stumps and employed his 'doosra' to deadly effect on the Indians.
"That was something I was working on for sometime. In one-day cricket batsmen are always trying to attack the spinners and bowling around the stumps gives more chances for leg before," said the only bowler with more than 1000 international scalps.
Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene was an elated man after the win.
"I'm very happy. Playing back to back matches, especially against India, is difficult," he said.
"The senior guys led from the front and the youngsters pulled along. The momentum is excellent but we have to keep improving and not relax."
Actually it was the young brigade of Upul Tharanga (64) and Chamara Silva (59) who set up the platform for Lanka while the seasoned Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumara Sangakkara and the captain himself failed with the bat.
Perhaps, Jayawardene was referring to the bowling.
Chaminda Vaas, 33, struck a miserly line and length to stifle the Indian openers before Murali produced his magic.
"From the first over he was spot on," Jayawardene said in praise of Vaas who claimed 3-29.
"He did not allow easy shots to be played and that put pressure on the batsmen. It ruffled the Indian batsmen."
Asked about the team's fielding, particularly Muralitharan's stunner, the captain said, "that is an area we have been really working hard.
"When the older guys throw themselves around, the youngsters have no option but to follow."
Vaas said he had the experience to handle the situation.
"I didn't do anything different. I stuck to the line and length, and did the basics," he said.
"I had the variations. I knew the batsmen would come after me but I have been playing for a while now, I know the areas to put the ball in."
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