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|June 12, 1999||
'I wouldn't mind playing for a county,' says Dravid
India's prolific batsman Rahul Dravid has admitted that "prior to this World Cup there had been a problem with his one-day cricket".
"But I feel all that is behind me now and I'm really looking to the future and hoping to develop my batting. The World Cup has been good for me," he said, before the match against New Zealand.
While all the attention was drawn towards Sachin Tendulkar and left-hander Saurav Ganguly before the tournament, few expected Rahul to perform much higher than his more famed and recognised teammates.
"Up until now I have not really had the same recognition as Sachin and Saurav, but then again they have performed better than me over a longer period of time," he said modestly.
"But you have to be able to perform before getting recognition and that is what I have done. You can't really complain about recognition when you are playing with a player like Sachin. He's the undoubtedly best in the world. I prefer it that way, as it takes the pressure off me as well."
Not feeling the pressure has clearly helped Dravid. He is the tournament's leading scorer with 432 runs, hitting two back to back hundreds - only the second player after Mark Waugh achieved the feat against Sri Lanka and Kenya respectively in the last World Cup - and his partnership of 318 with Ganguly against Sri Lanka at Taunton was the highest for any wicket in one-day history. His stand of 237 with Sachin, against Kenya, also set a World Cup record for the third wicket.
Dravid has a Test average of 57 in 25 matches since making his debut against England at Lord's in 1996 and, more importantly, considering his average of 33 in one-day internationals (in 66 matches) before the World Cup, English conditions have helped his one-day game.
"I just enjoy playing here in English weather," he said. ''The wickets and the conditions really suit my style of cricket and this has helped me get a few runs in my kitty.''
A right-handed batsman, Dravid's measured approach to run-making has been ideal for a tournament in which the big, fancy hitters have failed to make their mark. He relies more on timing than brute force, and relishes playing on England's seam and swing wickets. In fact, he has enjoyed himself so much that he says he "wouldn't mind playing for a county", though he refuses to confirm any offers.
He, however, clearly indicated that he is somewhat disappointed with England's interest in cricket, particularly the World Cup.
"It's quite amazing because the World Cup has been a bigger event in India that it has in England," he said. "It's a big shame really, given the history of cricket in England. Cricket is such a big game for Indians."
"We have played some excellent cricket," Dravid said. "I believe we had a team capable of going all the way to the final. We have had a couple of off days that have cost us dearly."
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