Vol. 5 Num 1062 Mon. May 28, 2007  

grameenphone TEST SERIES
Effort pleases Dravid

After a torrid few months, India captain Rahul Dravid felt relieved to have left Ban-gladesh with wins under his belt.

India clinched the one-day series 2-0 and the Test series 1-0 after the entire Chittagong-leg of the trip was hampered by rain. But the 34-year-old knew that anything short of a win against Bangladesh would have been unwelcome by their demanding fans back home.

"It was always a lose-lose situation. Had we not done well, people would have said, 'what's happening?' Had we won, it's not a big deal. So it was tough in that sense."

He declined to talk at any length about their disastrous World Cup where they lost to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to exit the event after the first round. Rather he preferred to talk about the positives and the tour ahead to England next month.

"The World Cup is behind us and there's nothing we can do about it. We came here to get our rhythm, confidence and form back. We played good cricket in some tough conditions here," said the Indian captain.

"I don't get excited by most situations. My belief is to keep things in perspective whether it is victory or defeat. We will take some heart from this win, some positives."

Positives came in the form of opener Dinesh Karthik who struck his maiden Test century, Wasim Jaffer's reply with a hundred after going for a pair in the first Test in Chittagong and the collective bowling effort of the fast bowlers.

"They have given me confidence. Wasim's comeback has been good for India. He's got some big scores, some low scores. The challenge for him would be to be consistent, put a string of good scores together, which is what a good opener should do. Dinesh (Karthik) hasn't put a foot wrong in the last three games. He shows character, attitude, hunger, and desire. He's already started thinking ahead about what the challenges are going to be in England," said Dravid who is expected to continue leading India to England.

"Having batted on it for a long time, we had figured out what line and length to bowl. We knew that the new ball was going to be critical. All our bowlers, especially Zaheer, did a great job."

Dravid, one of the finest batsmen in this era with a Test average of 57, had some words of solace for his opposite number Habibul Bashar who won the toss, and as it now seems, and made the mistake of bowling first on a placid wicket.

"Habibul (Bashar) is not the first or last captain to have made a toss call that a captain regrets. We knew that Bangladesh would struggle once we had kept them on the field for 150 overs and scored over 600 runs," said Dravid.

Dravid had some good words for Mashrafe Bin Mortaza who turned on a stellar performance in the series by topping the batting charts with 151 runs, including two half-centuries. The 'Narail Express' also took six wickets in the first Test.

"He has done well with the bat and with the ball in the first innings. He is a very good player," commented Dravid.

His views were echoed by interim coach Ravi Shastri.

"He is one quality player in this team. He has a lot of cricket ahead of him and I hope he shows his class to the world," said Shastri, who was on a one-off stint with the India team.

"I will respect my contract with ESPN and continue there but I have enjoyed my stay with the India team. The boys can tell you that," admitted Shastri who turned 45 yesterday.

"It is quite important to have team spirit and I think the boys have shown great unity -- something that is quite important for the dressing-room. They showed their true characters by winning the first one-dayer under such heat and also in this Test."

The straight-speaking Shastri owned up to his earlier words saying, "I did not want to hurt anyone by my words as I speak like this all the time."