Monday, December 31, 2007

Dravid's Personal choices:

Full name:
Rahul Sharad Dravid.

The Wall, Mr. Dependable and Mr. Reliable.

Date of birth:
11 January 1973.

Place of birth:
Indore, India.

Zodiac sign:

5'11'' (approx.).

Hindi, English, Kannada, Marathi.

Schools attended:
St Joseph's, Bangalore.

Degree: from St. Joseph's Boys College.

Major teams:
Karnataka, India, ACC Asian XI, Scotland and Kent.

ODI debut:
India vs. Sri Lanka, Singer Cup , 1995/1996.

Test debut:
India vs. England, 2nd Test at Lord's, 1996.

Batting style:
Right hand bat.

Bowling style:
Right arm off-break.


Marital status:
Happily married to Vijeeta Pendharkar.

Parents - Sharad (worked for Kissan) & Pushpa Dravid (received PhD in art).
Siblings - Younger brother Vijay Dravid (did engineering and also plays cricket).
Wife - Vijeeta Pendharkar (practicing surgeon in Nagpur).
Children - Two sons - Samit (2005) and Anvay (2009) .

Greatest influences:
Parents and coach Keki Tarapore.

Name of house:

Concentration and ability to stay cool.

Reading and listening to music.

Nothing in particular.

Favorite color:

Favorite cars:
BMW and Maruti 800.

Favorite genre of books:
Philosophy and thrillers.

Favorite author:
Richard Bach.

Favorite movie:
Braveheart, Ghost, and Rocky (Hindi).

Favorite actors:
Tom Cruise and Aamir Khan.

Favorite actresses:
Julia Roberts, Demi Moore, Michelle Pfieffer and Manisha Koirala.

Favorite singers:
Sting, Chris de Burgh, Kishore Kumar, and Lata Mangeshkar.

Favorite songs:
I believe I can fly by R. Kelly, Could you be loved by Bob Marley, Greatest love of all by Whitney Houston, Because you loved me by Celine Dion, O Sanam by Lucky Ali, and Afreen Afreen by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Favorite type of music:
Slow Rock.

Favorite TV channel:

Favorite cartoon:

Favorite pastime:
Listening to old Hindi songs.

Favorite foods:
Chicken tikka masala, daal and rice and anything mom cooks.

Favorite restaurants:
Shezaan, Karavalli, and Paradise Island.

Favorite drink:
Pepsi, and mango milkshake.

Favorite hotel:
Sandton Sun (Johannesburg, South Africa).

Favorite vacation spot:
A forest resort.

Most memorable match:
1st Test at Lord's.

Cricketing heroes:
G.R Vishwanath, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, and Martin Crowe.

Current favorites:
Sachin Tendulkar, Javagal Srinath, Azharuddin, and Steve Waugh.

Future Cricket stars:
Murali Karthik, Ajit Agarkar, Harbajan Singh.

Other favorite sportsmen:
Micheal Jordon, Prakash Padukone, V. Anand and Pete Sampras.

Worst match:
Third Test against West Indies at Barbados.

Most favorite venue:
Lord's and Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Least favorite venue:
Nothing in particular.

Saddest cricketing moment:
When India failed to chase 120 against West Indies in the 3rd test at Barbados in 1997.

Ambition in Cricket:
To play for India and win many Tests abroad.

Philosophy in life:
Be a good human being.

Most prized possession:
Test cap.

Dream woman:
Doesn't remember what he dreams.

Most embarrassing moment:
Cried in the dressing room after getting out in a junior match and his friend laughed at him.

Rahul's Indian XI:
Gundappa Viswanath, Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vensarkar, Vijay Merchant, Syed Kirmani, Tendukar, Javagal Srinath, Anil Kumble, Kapil Dev, Erapalli Prasanna, and Bishen Bedi.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Dravid's Statistics:

*Dravid has been involved in the most century partnerships in Test history - 65 (May 2007)
* Dravid has the second highest Test batting average among those who have scored over 9,000 Test runs (May 2007)
* Scored nearly 23% of the total runs put up by India (with a batting average of 102.84) in the 21 Test matches won under Ganguly's captaincy. This is the highest percentage contribution by any batsman in Test cricket history in matches won under a single captain where the captain has won more than 20 Tests.
* Longest streak of consecutive Tests since debut (96)
* Only player to score a century against every Test playing nation away from home (until the ICC decides to add more nations to the list of Test playing nations his record can only be equalled, not broken).
* Involved in highest partnership made away from home for any wicket for India with vice captain Virender Sehwag of 410 runs vs Pakistan at Lahore in 2006 (the highest partnership between a captain and the vice captain).
* He is the fastest to reach 9000 runs in Test cricket. In all he took 176 innings to do this, bettering the previous record set by Brian Lara by 1 innings.
* Dravid is one among the only three batsmen to hit Test centuries in four consecutive innings. The other two are Jack Fingleton and Alan Melville. Dravid achieved this by hitting scores of 115, 148, 217 and 100* in three successive matches against England and one against the West Indies. Only Everton Weekes, with centuries in five consecutive innings, has achieved a longer sequence of consecutive Test hundreds.
* With scores of 50 or more in 7 consecutive Tests Dravid bettered the previous Indian record of 50+ scores in 6 consecutive Tests for a single batsman. This record was shared by Vijay Hazare, Chandu Borde, Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar and Sadagoppan Ramesh. As of October 2006 this streak is unbroken.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Dravid's performance:

1) Dravid completed his 1,000 runs in Tests in the year 2006 when his score reached 22 in the second innings. He became the first batsman to do so this year. At the end of this match, Dravid's tally in 2006 reads as 1,046 runs in 18 innings of 10 Tests at an average of 74.71 with three hundreds and seven half-centuries.

2) This is the second occasion that Dravid has aggregated 1,000 runs in a calendar year. In 2002, he had scored 1,357 runs in 16 Tests averaging 59.00.

3) Dravid completed his 9,000 runs in Tests when his score reached 19 in the second innings. He became the sixth batsman to do so after Sunil Gavaskar, Allan Border, Steve Waugh, Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara.

4) By taking only 176 innings to complete his 9,000 runs, Dravid also became the quickest in terms of least number of innings taken to accomplish this feat bettering Brian Lara's record who took 177 innings to aggregate 9,000 runs.

5) Dravid became only the fourth batsman to score half-centuries in both innings of a Test, in which no other fifty was scored for India. Others to do so for India are -- Vengsarkar against England at Leeds in 1986, Tendulkar against Australia at Melbourne in 1999-00 and at Mumbai in 2000-01.

6) Dravid achieved the two highest scores in the match. This provided only the seventh such instance in a Test, where all 40 wickets fell. He is the second Indian after Dilip Vengsarkar (102 not out and 61 against England at Leeds in 1986) to do so.

7) Dravid has now top scored in a completed innings on 17 occasions while playing abroad. This puts him at level with Tendulkar. Now only little master Sunil Gavaskar (18) has top scored in a completed innings on more occasions for India than Dravid.

8) Dravid's aggregate of 496 runs in the series is the highest by an Indian captain in an overseas series. He obliterated Sunil Gavaskar's record, who had aggregated 434 runs in six match series against Pakistan in 1982-83. The previous record of highest aggregate by an Indian captain away from the sub-continent was held by Mohammad Azharuddin, who aggregated 426 runs in five innings of a three match series against England in 1990.

9) With his knock of 81 in the first innings, Dravid established a new Indian record of scoring half-centuries in most consecutive Tests. This was the seventh consecutive Test in which Dravid has scored at least a fifty -- 71 at Nagpur, 95 at Mohali, 52 at Mumbai against England, 62 at St. John's, 146 at Gros Islet, 68 not out at St. Kitts and 81 here at Kingston against the West Indies. The previous Indian record was half-centuries in six consecutive Tests, shared by Vijay Hazare, Chandu Borde, Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar (twice) and Sadagoppan Ramesh

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Why did he left the Captaincy?

From the time he announced it, Rahul Dravid's decision to step down as captain of the Indian cricket team seemed to be far deeper than the public reason he gave for it.

He may have told the BCCI chief Sharad Pawar that he wants to concentrate on his batting. But only those unaware of the dirty politics rampant in Indian cricket since time immemorial, will take Dravid at his word.
It is not difficult to see Dravid is not telling the truth for obvious reasons. Being a thorough gentleman, Dravid would probably never disclose the actual reasons for his abrupt decision, considering he had just led his team to a Test series win on English soil after 21 years.
A key member of Team India told on condition of anonymity that Dravid was "feeling suffocated", not because of the weight of captaincy affecting his batting, but because "certain people from outside tended to dictate to him as to what he should do and what he shouldn't" as a captain.
"You could clearly see Dravid had been feeling some sort of indirect, mental pressure from the always powerful Mumbai lobby, which has again swung into action since Pawar has become the BCCI president," he added.

And one of those outsiders is chairman of selectors, Dilip Vengsarkar, who also hails from Mumbai.
It is no secret now that Vengsarkar was not happy with Dravid not batting at number three in the One-Day Internationals and sending others instead. Rather than advising the Indian captain in person, Vengsarkar expressed his displeasure and pointedly criticised him on this issue after the sixth One-Day International at Lord's, where India levelled the seven-match series 3-3.
"Why on earth should Vengsarkar criticise any of Dravid's decisions? It's none of his business. It's Dravid, and not he, who is the captain. Vengsarkar's job is only to select the team. People like Vengsarkar and others of his ilk weren't making Dravid's task easier. Such criticism was uncalled-for when India was trying to come back in the series," said the Indian player.
"I don't know if Vengsarkar has made any critical statement about whether Dravid should bat at No. 3 or at any other position. But if he really has, I think he shouldn't make such comments in public. Rather he should meet the players personally and tell them whatever he wants to say," a high profile BCCI official reluctantly said.

Another BCCI bigwig told that he felt "sorry" for the way Dravid was "taken for granted" by a "particular section of the BCCI, including the chairman of selectors" despite his "best and successful efforts" to "rebuild" the team after the World Cup debacle.
"They gave him a specialist bowling coach, a specialist fielding coach, but not a full-time coach. Instead, they gave him a 73-year-old former player, a true blue Maharashtrian, as a manager, who couldn't remember even the names of the players properly. The team given to him was also not entirely of his choice. As always, they gave him Ajit Agarkar,an eternal blue-eyed boy of successive Indian selectors. Agarkar's lack of talent and performance is legendary and it was no exception on the England tour either," said the bigwig.
Earlier, Pawar did not show any interest in making Gundappa Viswanath, of all people, the coach of Team India when the master batsman expressed his desire to serve it. Instead he appointed Borde the manager. A still furious Erapalli Prasanna recently told this correspondent that Pawar questioned his ability to coach promising spinners in the country.
The BCCI chief said soon after Dravid handed him his resignation that he did not try to "persuade" him after he was "convinced" by what the outgoing Indian captain "explained" to him. So, instead of persuading him to continue to lead the country, Pawar decided to "respect" his decision to quit the captaincy. Indeed, inscrutable are the ways of the BCCI.

What lends further credence to the theory that the Mumbai lobby had been secretly working against Dravid is Sachin Tendulkar's comments on the England tour itself that he hadn't "enjoyed" his previous innings as the Indian captain. Tendulkar was reported to have made such remarks on Sky TV's serial Indian Pioneers in the middle of the Test series.
And within hours of Dravid tendering his resignation from the captaincy the BCCI has sounded out Tendulkar to take over the reins of Team India.
A man of quiet dignity, Dravid has always played the game and steered clear of controversies. He could withstand even a sustained attack from the media and former cricketers-turned-critics for having not enforced the follow-on on England in the third and final Test at The Oval and squandering a golden opportunity of winning the series 2-0; but certainly not the skilful political manoeuvrings the BCCI bossess are masters at.
Dravid has proved his leadership ability in his own humble way despite the limited resources at his command and the outside pressure he was invariably subjected to. However, a person of his temperament can neither stand all this nor continue any longer in such a scenario, especially when he has realised that captaincy has begun to affect his batting.
With the tough series coming up against the world champion Australia, first in India and later Down Under, Dravid has taken a wise decision to relinquish the captaincy on a winning note. His batting is far too important to Team India than his captaincy.

Click here to view his record as a captain.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dravid:Man Of The Match:Stats:

Dravid has received the "man of the match" award 22 times in his career.

4 times against Pakistan.
-->1.India V Pakistan
-->2.India V Pakistan
-->3.Pakistan V India
-->4.India V Pakistan

3 times against South Africa.
-->1.South Africa V India
-->2.South Africa V India
-->3.India V South Africa

4 times against West Indies.
West Indies V India
-->2.India V West Indies
-->3.India V West Indies
-->4.West Indies V India

3 times against NewZealand.
New Zealand V India
-->2.New Zealand V India
-->3.India V New Zealand

2 times against SriLanka.
India V Sri Lanka
-->2.India V Sri Lanka

3 times against England.
England V India
-->2.England V India
-->3.England V India

once against Australia,Zimbabwe and UAE
Australia V India
-->India V United Arab Emirates
-->Zimbabwe V India

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dravid agrees to open innings in Australia:

India's top middle order batsman Rahul Dravid has agreed to open the innings in the Test series against Australia, it has now been confirmed.
A top board official confirmed the news stating that Wasim Jaffer and Dravid would walk out to open the innings at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) for the first Test, starting on 26th of this month.
Viewed as technically the best batsman in the Indian line-up, Dravid has usually been a reluctant Test opener for India and with good reasons. The stylish Karnataka batsman has opened in seven Tests for India and scored only 339 runs at an average of 33.09.
But he has been asked to bail the team out of a piquant situation and Dravid, ever the team-man, has acceded to the request.
The request has been made to accommodate Yuvraj Singh in the playing eleven, the powerful left-hander from Punjab who hit a breathtaking 169 in the recent Test in Bangalore against Pakistan.
The middle order is packed with top batsmen such as Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman and
Yuvraj can only come in if Dravid vacates his position for the aggressive southpaw.
Initially, it was believed that Dravid would be reluctant to take up the opener's role since his position in the middle order is secure.
He was also cut up with the selectors for having him removed from the one-day unit but now asking for a favour in Tests.
Dravid also didn't get swayed by his awesome record in Australia in the last series between the two countries when he scored over 600 runs from four Tests including a classy double century in Adelaide.
It is believed that initially Dravid had ruled out the possibility of opening in Australia but a little persuasion from captain Anil Kumble, his team-mate from Bangalore, made him change his minds.
Kumble spoke to Dravid at length after the Bangalore Test and made him see the catch-22 situation his side faced vis-à-vis inclusion of Yuvraj Singh in the playing eleven.
Dravid's nod to opener's role would mean that Virender Sehwag and Dinesh Karthik, two other openers in the side, would not be considered to open the innings, at least in the first two Tests of the series.
Sehwag, in any case, it is learnt would bat only in middle order even if he is picked in the playing eleven at any stage of the tour.
Indians are aware that a good start is absolutely paramount in Australia and Dravid has the technique to completely blunt the fearsome Australian pace attack.
As of now, home captain Ricky Ponting is veering towards having fearsome Brett Lee and Shaun Tait take the new ball.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Interview after success as a captain:

Does it come as a surprise that India are winning a bilateral one-day series at home after more than three years?We haven't played well in one-day competitions for a while. I'm not surprised in the sense that I believe in this squad. Even in Sri Lanka we lost against them but all the three games were close. People forget that. We had opportunities to win in all three games. If someone had said at the start of the series [that we would win 4-0] I might not have believed him. But after the first couple of games I believed that we could wrap this up as quickly as possible. To be honest we haven't been playing good one-day cricket after the World Cup [in 2003]. Some of the teams have showed us up in one-day competitions in India, and abroad as well.

What has made the difference? I just think that many guys have played a lot better individually, taken up the responsibility and performed better in their roles. There's been a bit of freshness in the squad which has definitely helped. Greg [Chappell] and Ian [Frazer] have come in and helped a lot in that direction.

How different is it being captain of India, from just being stand-in captain? It was just nicer to get the job over a slightly extended period. I've never really thought that I am just a stand-in captain so I should do things differently from when I was actually captain. But having the job over a period of time does help - not just me but everyone in the squad - because you know you're going to be in charge for a while. That adds a bit of continuity. It helps in getting your message across.

Were you disappointed or hurt going into Zimbabwe? Not really. No, I don't dwell on these things too much. I've been dealing with being selected and being dropped from the age of 15 when I got involved in competitive sport. At the end of the day you have to realise that in a team sport other people make decisions on whether you're playing or not. You can't dwell on those things too much. You have to concentrate on the cricket, try and get over it. I try to focus on the positives, what I have to do, and not necessarily on what has happened.

Would you rather have been told earlier? Not really. I would not like to make too many comments on that. At the end of the day I don't make decisions on whether I'm going to be captain or not, or whether I'm going to be in the team or not. That's a fact of life. That's part of team sport. If you are going to play at the international level you have to accept those things. Sometimes things could have been done differently and sometimes not, that's a matter of personal opinion.

There's been a suggestion that you said you would not accept the captaincy unless it was given to you over a period of time, and that you made this clear to the board president ...Absolutely not. I don't think there's any truth to that. The board president never spoke to me before I was appointed captain and I had no such conversation.
The team looks good now and there's been a lot of talk about the team spirit ...We have been winning games and then the spirit is always high. When you have a lot of performers in the team that makes a difference. You can't discount the fact that winning makes you look good. If we lose a few games everyone will be saying the same squad of boys doesn't look good. I don't get too carried away with that. Winning has helped. Different people performing when we needed it has helped. It's early days yet. There's no point getting carried away yet. But what I'm really happy about is not that we've won, but that we're working really hard, and we're preparing really well for every game. We should not get too carried away by these wins. These wins will keep happening if you keep the preparation going.

You put a lot of stress personally on preparation before a game. How has the support staff [coach, Frazer etc] helped make a difference with reference to this in the team context? They have helped a lot. Greg and Ian have brought in some new ideas. They work really hard on preparing the guys to play a game of cricket and once we reach the field it is my team and I lead the boys. Greg and Ian have prepared the team brilliantly. John [Gloster] and Greg [King] have played their part well as physio and trainer. Ramki as analyst, and a good manager in the Wing Commander [M Baladitya] has helped immensely. It's a coming together of good people. It's an environment where we're challenging each other constantly. That is helping. I'm enjoying the environment and I'm sure the rest of the boys in the squad are enjoying the environment.

We've seen, one way or another, that the captain-coach relationship is an important one. Tell us a bit about your relationship with Chappell. It's important to have a good coach-team relationship. It's not so much about coach-captain. I think the success we have had has been down to guys in the team knuckling down and performing well. You have to realise that without a good squad of guys, without a performing team, there's not much a captain or coach can do. As captain, or coach, there are certain things you can do to make a team better, but there's a limit to that. At the end of the day players have to perform. The credit should go to the people who perform - you can have all the theories you want, all the field placings you want, but if someone does not put the ball in the right areas or do the job with the bat, nothing else matters. The coach and captain have a definite role to play in providing a good environment, but the credit should go to the guys who do the job.

You've always put a bit of importance on leading by example. How important is it for you to set an example in the way you prepare, conduct yourself, perform? I think you have to. You have to lead by example. That's the way I have tried to do my best for the team. As a captain, if you expect guys to work hard, always to their best, become better cricketers, then you have to show them that you are trying constantly to do that yourself and challenging yourself. I'm sure the guys pick up on that. I'm sure the guys see that you're not just saying things but actually practicing what you preach.

You've emphasised a lot on processes and not just on results. But assuming the results are not going your way, does the team have the maturity to still believe it is the processes, not the results, that are important? Not always. At the end of the day we are playing in a sport where results are everything. But that's where you are going to be tested. Are you willing to back yourselves when it's not going well? There are times when it is not going to go well. When things are not going well you have to look to change things and be a bit proactive about it. Not everyone is going to have the patience with us when things are not going well, but we must have that patience as a group. We must have some patience with some of the boys when things don't go so well with them.

It's been suggested that you might have some trouble dealing with the difficult characters in the team. How has it been dealing with a mixed group of individuals? It's been very good. The guys have responded well and everyone has been solidly behind the team, more than anything else. I have had no problems, no issues. I have been around a bit, you know. I've played with these guys for a while. I know them well. I didn't ever think there was going to be an issue with this sort of thing.

Recently there has been a lot of talk about the role the seniors play. How has the whole mentoring bit worked with people like yourself and Sachin [Tendulkar]? Sachin plays a very important role because all of us look up to him. He is one of our senior guys. It makes a lot of difference to have someone like him around, someone who is willing to make a difference, to help, to contribute. Everyone can learn from him, whether it is at a team meeting or just having a casual conversation at the end of the day's play. It is important for us to create an environment like this where some of the senior guys can play a role like this. Greg [Chappell] and Ian [Frazer] have been instrumental in doing this.
Being captain of India is not just about cricket. You have to deal with officials, endless press conferences ...You have to deal with it. That comes with the terrain. I was lucky that I was vice-captain for four years and I learnt how the system worked. I got a lot from sitting back and seeing how things worked but it's early days yet. I have not led the side enough to tell you what it's like. Irrespective of whether the team wins or loses, it is too early for me, or others, to form an opinion on what sort of captain I am. I have led the side in just 20-odd games and that is not enough experience given the amount of cricket we play these days.

You took over at a troubled time for Indian cricket. How did you deal with that? We try to focus on the cricket. We try to impress on everyone that cricket is the most important thing and that the rest is not so relevant. We try and ensure that working, sticking to routines and things like that are the most important.

It's all very well saying you have to focus on the cricket. But how easy or difficult was that phase for you personally? It's not that difficult either. There will be different phases in your life when you have to face different challenges. At the end of the day your focus has to be that you play the game because you love it. You have to bring that enjoyment into what you do. Also, sometimes you have to tell yourself not to take things too seriously. In India it is easy to make the mistake of taking things too seriously. Everyone is jumping up and down about us winning the series [against Sri Lanka]. Yeah ok, we've done that, but we have to stop thinking about that and move on. If we lose people will moan. As a player you have to realise that you are there to do the best you can at a game you love playing. That's all I can ask of guys in my team, and that's all I can ask of myself.

The way you're batting in one-day cricket these days, is that also a reflection of the fact that you're not taking yourself so deadly serious these days? I've learned to accept success and failure equally. It's not just now. I have learned to deal with it and be on an even keel over the last five years. That has been a huge help to me as a cricketer and as a person. That comes from experience. I was dropped from the side for about a year in 1998, and I realised that one of the things I missed was the enjoyment of playing the game. Sure you enjoy the successes, but you also learn from the failures. I tried to bring the enjoyment when I came back. And I guess it also taught me that life would not end if I was not picked to play for India.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Interview after his 270 against Pakistan:

You didn't get many runs in the first two Tests. Were you more eager than usual when you walked out to bat in the third Test?

If you have not got runs in a few games, the eagerness is normal. You know you have been batting well and it spurs you on to try and get a big one. When you have the opportunity, you must cash in and get as much as you can. Eagerness is not the only thing that drives you. In the situation we were in, it was easy to push oneself. It was the series-deciding match and you had the chance to get a big score. There are different triggers and motivations in different circumstances and at different stages. It was not hard to motivate oneself because one knew there was a big prize waiting at the end of the road.
You have to switch on and off - that's a skill that you learn over a period of time. But you can't let yourself relax, or be hard and critical and keep pushing yourself, the body and mind to new limits. It is a challenge. Here was a situation that let me push myself, beat the mind and find a wind.

You make it sound easy. How do you find that second wind?

You have to constantly be in dialogue with yourself and your partner. You talk a lot to yourself, have different triggers, like tell yourself to bat the remaining 25 minutes to the end of the session. Play one ball at a time. Set yourself small goals and enjoy the process of batting and the contest - with yourself and the opposition - to try and win this.To do the best and make the most of chances.

You've made three double-hundreds this season. What are you doing differently?

I am doing the same things better. I know I am batting well but am making it count. I am not relaxing and am concentrating over longer periods of time. I wish I knew the answer so that I could use it all the time. Just make them count. When you get one big innings, it spurs you on. Take [Virender] Sehwag, for instance. The 195 he got in Australia was the catalyst that drove him to the triple-hundred. It makes you want to do it again and again.
A series win here will make a huge difference to how we perceive our cricket and how we are regarded. We have achieved a lot over a period of time. It is a challenge when we set out to achieve something and then actually achieve it

You're also fitter than ever. How much does this help when it comes to concentration?

Yes, it helps you bat at optimum levels for longer periods. It doesn't help you play the cover-drive or the sweep better but helps you perform at your best for long spells. A systematic routine.

What targets did you set yourself when you resumed on the third day on 134?

I do not set myself a target in terms of runs. We did not want to lose a wicket in the first session. We knew the bowlers would tire after lunch and we could cash in on that.

Of all your double-centuries was this the one where it was most difficult to concentrate?

It now seems the toughest. I was on the field for all but one ball till I got out. Adelaide was special and the 180 in Kolkata was testing too - I was sweating a lot and cramping. It is hard to rate these innings one over the other but yes, now that I think about it, this one was the toughest.

Somehow things begin to happen when you and [Sourav] Ganguly are running together ...

Sourav and I have played a lot of cricket together from our junior days and it is strange that we don't seem to inspire confidence [with our running between the wickets]. We have to keep working on it. We just can't seem to put a finger on it.

How do you recover after playing a long knock like this?

I tend to lose a lot of fluids when I am at the wicket for long spells. My fluid intake has to be monitored. I get a massage at the end of the day. We now have an ice bath each evening. I don't watch TV when I am batting. I don't ask for room service. Instead I go down, find some friends in the restaurant and have a meal. I sleep early.

Sehwag and Aakash Chopra have given you great starts. Was it playing on your mind that a makeshift opener was doing the job and that you might be out in the middle sooner rather than later?

Any No. 3 will love to have the chance to put his feet up. Ask any No. 3 in the world and he will tell you the same. Aakash and Viru have given us some nice starts in the last eight Tests and it has always helped to walk in to bat in such scenarios. But we had to do this as a one-off, to be able to give the men in form the chance to bat where they have done well. The settled opener got out early but credit to Parthiv [Patel] that he batted well.

Tell us a bit about the decision to open with Patel.

It was a one-off decision. In an ideal-world scenario, we will have a settled opening pair. Parthiv has shown that he can be very good at No. 7, someone who can make Test hundreds. The next Test is many months away. When the time comes to make a decision, we shall consider all aspects, including having Parthiv to keep wicket and open the innings. We realise that it is never easy to keep wicket and open the batting.

In the past people have been treated indifferently after being dropped. Is this team handling things better?

I sure hope so. It is never an easy thing to do. Only 11 can play and we always have to keep someone out. John [Wright] takes care and has a lot of interest in ensuring that we are a happy party. We have ensured that those not in the 11 get more opportunity at the nets. We try and do things better. We keep learning all the time.

You're very particular about being a role model and having a clean image. How much of a blow was it when you were hauled up for ball tampering in Australia?

It was not the nicest thing to happen but it is a part and parcel of cricket. You can't cry over it. You keep thinking that hopefully it didn't happen but it did. No point in thinking about it in. No excuses. Take it on the chin and move on. I did take time to recover but I have now put it behind me.

What will a series win in Pakistan do for this team?

A series win here will make a huge difference to how we perceive our cricket and how we are regarded. We have achieved a lot over a period of time. It is a challenge when we set out to achieve something and then actually achieve it. It is important from Indian cricket's perspective. It reinforces our belief that we can compete well abroad.

Do you consider yourself the best batsman in the world at the moment?

No. Look at a [Brian] Lara or a [Sachin] Tendulkar. These guys have achieved so much over such a long period of time. They are special players, each a genius. Look at the way they bat, take on so much pressure and the expectations of people. I have done well over the last couple of seasons but I don't go around rating batsmen. I guess I am one of the few successful batsmen over the last couple of seasons.

Is this Indian team the best team you have played in?

We are a better-prepared and confident side. Victories like the ones we have got overseas help the players grow as men. It helps in the development of the side. We are still not there. We can get better, particularly in the bowling department. We are developing. You can say we are a more focussed and better-prepared side than any team of the past.

You've led India in three Tests with three different results. What was captaincy like?

Winning was the best feeling, losing was not fun and the draw wasn't too great either. It's fantastic to lead your country but you know that you are doing it only for a specific duration when the captain is absent. You know it is over the next five or ten days. There is no permanency to it. There will be a difference if there is a permanency. You tend to think a lot differently. It is an honour and a privilege. I shall always cherish the thought that I did lead my country and won a Test match.

Does the team have to make major adjustments to different styles of captaincy?

The team did not have to make any adjustments. It is a reflection of the quality of the side that its performance does not drop drastically irrespective of who is in charge. The guys have been around for a while and adapt well. Things don't change suddenly.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Interview after 2003 world cup:

In the last World Cup you arrived as a one-day batsman. What differences do you see in the team over the two World Cups?
It has been a better journey in terms of where we have reached. We got lots of runs in 1999 but never felt we were in with a chance. We pulled it back but went into Super Six without any points. After a defeat against Australia we were never in it.

What was missing in the 1999 squad?
Can't say what was missing and I hate comparing teams. We have put up a more consistent performance in this one and the bowlers have come to the party.

You have been consistently finishing games for India. What kind of mental recalibration have you done to your batting?
I have had to change my approach a little bit. Now terms are paying more attention to the way I play. In the last game, I went in with a few balls left and had to go for everything. Some games you go in with three quick wickets down and need to rebuild the innings.
You have to play according to the situation and adapt quickly. It's different from when I used to go in at number three. There I could set the situation. Here the situation is dictated and takes a bit of adjustment.

Did the defeat against Australia sharpen your minds?
We did not do anything drastic, to be honest. The important thing was we believed in ourselves and there was no magical thing we did after the Australia game. We were not as bad as people made us out to be. We were disappointed by the huge defeat. But people overreacted.
The feeling in the team was, let us not overreact like every one else and just believe that if we play well we can go further in the tournament.

Do you think the backlash at home spurred you guys or got you more motivated?
I don't think reactions like that spur anyone on. If you play for India you don't need reactions like that. You realize there are always a few idiots. We also got a lot of support at that time from people.
In a billion people there are going to be a few nutcases who throw stones and do things they did. But there are millions who still support you, love the game and the players. You just accept it and move on.

Chris Cairns pointed out that Sachin Tendulkar has scored 75 per cent of the runs for India in this World Cup. Is that a worrying factor?
Not really. Tendulkar is batting up the order. It is true of a lot of teams whose top three have fired. Maybe someone should ask him percentage of runs Stephen Fleming has scored in the World Cup for New Zealand. That should be an interesting question.
When people bat at the top of the order and are in great form like Sachin they will score runs. But we have not struggled even after he has got out. We have found people to do well.

Your magic moments against England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka
England: The wicket of Michael Vaughan by Ashish Nehra. He was caught behind driving and we got a big wicket. We knew we would win from there.
Pakistan: The second over of the Indian innings when Tendulkar scored 18 runs off Shoaib Akhtar.
Sri Lanka: Javagal Srinath getting Aravinda de Silva LBW. He was in the middle of a great spell and that was his third wicket. So he picked the man in form at a critical moment.

Where would you rank your innings against Pakistan that saw India finish the game?
Hard to rate but it was important. We had 100 runs to get when Sachin left. He had set such a good platform that we could consolidate. But looking at the situation and the Pakistani attack, Yuvraj and I knew that we could not lose wickets as they have the ability to clean up the tail.

Yuvraj has done well for the team
He has been fantastic and batted well under pressure. It is terrific for someone so young and in his second year of international cricket. His batting under pressure has been a revelation. He is a great sign for the future. He had a tough time after a sensational debut and expectations were high and people expected him to perform every time.
Nehra also has given a terrific performance. For someone who has had a stop start career due to injuries, he has come of age in this tournament, bowling at his best and fulfilling his early promise. He has taken some time to deliver but has come through well.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Interview before Australia tour (2001):Part 1:

Rahul, as we count down to the upcoming series against Australia, the coach seems to be in the spotlight, as much as the team, maybe even more. So as a batsman and as a player, what do you expect from your coach?
I think that as a batsman you expect solutions from your coach, I think you expect the coach to tell you what you are doing wrong, why you are doing it wrong, and what the solution is. A lot of people can tell you what you are doing wrong -- what a player needs however is someone who can also come up with a solution.
Ideally, the coach should be able to trigger your own thinking, start the thought process going in your mind. Each player is different, as an individual -- so solutions that work for me might not work for the next guy. The coach has to be able to assess each individual, then work on solutions that will work for that player. At a broader level, you want a coach who can get the art of team management right. He has to be able to understand what makes a team work, keeping in mind that each team works to a different dynamic, he has to have a vision, a direction, a goal towards which he expects to guide the team. He has to be clear in his mind about the team, its individual and collective strengths and weaknesses. He has to work on eradicating the weaknesses, he has to get a spirit going within the side.

Given that prescription, how would you evaluate John Wright, who coached you while you played for Kent?
John is a good man, hardworking, also a good man-manager. He is passionate, dedicated. Kent, the situation there, was different simply because John had more of a say in who to pick, who he wants for a particular role -- the kind of say he may not get with the national team. Also, county cricket is different in that the players stay together. In India, after a series, we all go back to our respective homes, but in Kent, everyone stays in and around Canterbury, so you get more of a chance to interact, you get to know your team mates better. Then again, the pressure on a coach at the county level, to deliver, is much less than if he is coaching the national side. Also, when John was with Kent, he wouldn't have got the kind of media attention, and consequent pressure, that he is going to get as coach of the Indian team. In his playing days, he was not a natural cricketer -- he had to work hard at his game, and to his credit he succeeded in getting the best out of himself. That is a strength, which he now has to convey to the rest of us.

For the first time, India is going in for some sophisticated software to aid the coach. Do you think it is going to help? If so, how? And given how slow we are generally to absorb newfangled notions, do you think we will learn to use this in time?
Well, if there is anything that can help the guys improve they will take to it like a duck takes to water. Because if there is something that helps you improve your performance and makes you a better player, then why wouldn't you want it?
We haven't used it so far, we don't know much about it yet. We only know that other teams are using sophisticated computer software, this is the direction the sport is going. Actually, in that sense cricket as a sport is itself years behind other sports -- in games like Rugby, to cite one instance, computer-aided analysis has been happening for years. In cricket, it is relatively recent, some countries took to it early and have benefitted from it.

Does that mean that getting software is the cure for all our ills?
I don't think so. But it does make a difference. And the way to look at it is, if it makes a 5 per cent difference to the way we play, even if it makes a one per cent difference, then it is good.
I'll give you an example, Stephen Fleming was telling me about how they use computers and how it has helped them. They were watching tapes of South Africa playing New Zealand, and noticed that Gary Kirsten would always step out and hit Gavin Larsen. While watching, someone realised that the shot was predetermined -- that whenever Kirsten opted for the shot, there was a particular movement of the feet before the ball was bowled. In other words, they noticed that each time Kirsten moved his feet in a particular way, it meant he had decided to step out and hit Larsen. So Larsen was alerted -- and the next time he spotted Kirsten moving his feet in that fashion, he bowled the ball a bit wide. Sure enough, Kirsten stepped out, missed, and got stumped. It is a little thing, but it mattered a lot. The New Zealanders have learnt to use it well, so have the Australians and the South Africans. So yes, the use of computer analysis is good -- teams have been using it, and have proved its benefits. Now it is up to us to learn how to use it to the best advantage.

You played county cricket last year. What aspect of the county system do you think could be introduced in India, to make our own domestic structure better?
I don't think you should look at county cricket and its structure as a role model for us, as something to aspire for. I think the Australian system is what we should be looking at. English county cricket is good enough, but it has problems that are similar to what we have.

Too many teams for a country the size of England, for one thing. Then again, the standard of pitches is neither uniform nor good -- initially, the conditions favour bowlers too much, the only difference being that in India it favours the batsmen.

Of late, opposing sides appear to have figured out that one way of keeping you quiet is to bowl outside leg, turning it in to you. Have you figured out a counter-strategy?
As a player, you always keep learning and improving -- there are very few guys who are brilliant in all aspects of the game. The opposition is always looking for ways to contain you and get you out, and as they spot each tactic and try it against you, you then have to learn to counter it, that is part of your development as a player, it is a constant process.
Specifically, with respect to your question, I am not sure that this line outside leg is a problem, as such. The legside is one of my strengths as well, so it is not that much of a problem. Yes, if there is a definite line of attack then I have to think about it. I do have a few thoughts in my mind as well, about how to play that line, which for obvious reasons I am not keen to tell the whole world about. In the end, it all boils down to what happens over that distance of 22 yards. One good thing is we have a few domestic games coming up, which gives me time to experiment and work on a few things. Plus there is also the camp, so it will all be good preparation for the series.

To get back to a general question, we keep hearing the word 'vision' these days. What is it all about, and how important is it for a team to have a collective vision? Speaking of which, what is the vision for this team?
To take the last question first, the team would like to win abroad, to do well away from home. We have talked about this, and it is definitely something that is high up on our agenda. Another is to be more consistent. In that sense, our team vision would be to be up there, to compete consistently and successfully, like say Australia and South Africa.
As to why having a vision is important, it gives you a goal beyond the immediate game, something to work towards over the long term, something to aspire for, something you can identify with. If you have a goal, if you set yourself one, then there s some purpose to your journey. There is no point in going on a journey without a destination in mind. If you are clear about your goal, then you can work towards it -- if you are not, then you tend to get lost.

There is a lot of anticipation, a lot of expectation, surrounding this team. So what is this team all about, what is different about it?
It is too early to say this team is different. We have had a few good months, but playing Zimbabwe at home is not the toughest challenge there is, to be frank. The young guys have been doing well, players like Yuvraj Singh, Shiv Sunder Das, Hemang Badani, Zaheer Khan, Reetinder Sodhi and Mohammad Kaif have come into their own. So that, I guess, creates a lot of anticipation and excitement -- but then, that is always the case in India, whenever a new kid comes along there is a bit of anticipation. In fact, we tend sometimes to get overexcited about someone, then when he fails, we write him off just as quickly. That is why I don't at this point want to talk of what is different about this team -- the only point I can think of is that it is a young side, so there is scope to grow and learn and improve.

You were talking of kids -- well, Yuvraj played two good knocks, and now he has sponsors falling all over him. Is that necessarily a good thing for a youngster just starting off, this instant stardom?
I don't think there is anything wrong with players signing contracts or deals if they are in a position to do so. Why not? At the same time they should realise that these deals are happening because of their success in the sport, they should realise that the day you stop doing well, everything else stops. As long as Yuvraj is getting good deals, good for him -- I am sure he realises that he has to continue to do well, or all this will end.

He seems more visible in ads than he is on the field, though...
No I don't agree with that. This kid came along and played a brilliant knock first up, so everyone expects him to do well all the time. That is not possible, he has had a few bad games which was only to be expected, but everyone is climbing on his back and talking of his ads, which is not fair.
That is not the point. If Yuvraj is not getting runs, then people should be talking of what is wrong with his technique, not about the ads he has signed for. Frankly, it is silly to say that because he is popular with sponsors, he is not getting runs of late. He is a good kid, he has exceptional talent and he can be a very special player if he wants it. But that is something he has to work out in his head, and it would be good if he could be left alone to do that.

Granting all that, to say that he is the Hrithik Roshan of Indian cricket....
Firstly I have not read the interview, so I don't know what to say. But assuming the quote is true, he is just 19, you can't expect a boy that age to talk and think like a veteran. Young people do make such mistakes -- I mean, wasn't Ricky Ponting arrested in a bar room brawl? It is only in India that we get hyper about these things -- we need to remember that young people will make mistakes, it is part of the growing up process, and a good thing for us to do is step back and give the young time to make their mistakes and learn from them.

Tell us how you view Sourav Ganguly the captain?
Sourav has been a good captain, he has been quite successful so far with things. He came in during difficult times, and considering that, you have to say he has done a fantastic job so far. He is good with the boys and knows when to crack the whip and when to show character. It's a hard job, being captain of India, there is a lot of pressure. And he can only get better, as he learns on the job. The best part is he is willing to learn, so hopefully he will get even better.

What is his strength as a captain?
It's a combination of things. He is positive and forthright. He tells you what he wants, what he expects. He knows that when things work out he will get the praise and if things fail he will get the brickbats, so he has figured out that the best thing is to do things his way -- at least he is then directly responsible for results, and can shoulder the praise or blame as appropriate. Some captains tend to think one way, but yield to someone else's ideas -- and then, when things go wrong, they find themselves wishing they had done things their own way. In Sourav's case there is no such ambiguity -- he is boss, he knows what he wants, and he lets you know it, too.

****About yourself -- would you prefer to be remembered as a great batsman, or as a good cricketer?
What's the difference? (*laughs*) I mean I would love to be remembered as a good cricketer, someone who gave his best to the game, someone who worked hard at his game and his abilities and someone who played the game honestly. I don't really worry about what people will remember me as. People don't remember cricketers' averages -- I cannot tell you what Sunil Gavaskar 's average was, or how many runs Vishwanath scored. But I can tell you what those players mean to me, and to the game in general. I am not a great one for the statistics, I would like to be remembered as someone who played to the best of his ability. ****

Match fixing?
The most surprising thing for me was that till then, I never really believed these things could, and did happen.

How does it feel to know you were playing with guys who weren't playing the game fair and square?
I would not want to comment on that, to be frank. I have enjoyed my time with the Indian team and enjoyed playing with all the guys, I have learnt stuff from each player, so I will remember them all as great cricketers, as people who achieved much on the field. As far of the rest of it goes, there are so many ifs and buts, so much stuff still flying around. I don't want to jump to conclusions and say anything until the entire picture becomes clear.

Have you ever been approached?

I was reading this book on my way over, I saw this line talking of a link between sport and the spirit -- is that true, or just one of those lines that simply look profound?
It is true. Sport is a spiritual thing. Sometimes, when you are really batting well and you are really as they say in the zone, it is a different feeling altogether, you can lose yourself in it, you go beyond your body, outside it, which I guess is where the spiritual element comes in.
How much do these books that you read affect your thinking the way you play your sport.
A little bit, not very much. I enjoy reading ... always have, since I was young. At first I used to read all kinds of books, now I read sports books mostly, and autobiographies. It gives you a chance to get outside your own head and into someone else's, to see things in a different manner, from a different perspective.

A freak question: do you think the Indian team could ever be like the Chicago Bulls in their prime?
I would love for us to be. To be known as the best team in the world. It will take a lot of hard work, but if we find the right guys and work hard at it, why not? I would love to be part of such a side, and even if I could not be part of the side I would love to be able to see it happen, from the sidelines.

Speaking of finding the right guys, is there a talent crisis in India?
Well there are some good young people coming up...its hard to say, really, I don't think I can answer that.

Fine, then -- tell us of your marriage plans...
I don't have those either -- there is a busy year of international cricket coming up, so no other plans for now.

Interview before Australia tour (2001):Part 2:

Another year, same opponents -- this time last year, you were recovering from a mauling Down Under. And now they are due to come here. What thoughts go through your mind at this point?
This is a very important series. You are playing the world champion side. It’s going to be hard, and we will really have to play very well, very hard, to beat a side like that. It's going to be a huge challenge, straight up.

Will the fact that we lost at home to South Africa have an impact on the team?
True, we lost to South Africa, but overall we have a good record at home. Against SA, they were a good side, and we didn't play good cricket, so we got punished. It was a disappointment, but then, if you don't play well you have to expect to lose, and the same is the case against Australia. When you play average opposition at home, you can get away with playing average cricket. But against the good sides, you have to lift your game, play to potential, or you will get punished.

Playing Australia in Australia should have taught you a few things -- so this time round, how do you plan to tackle the series?
There is a camp coming up, which gives us -- the team, the captain, the coach -- a chance to get together, to sit down together and discuss a few things. We need to be clear in our own mind what kind of pitches we want, what kind of team composition we need, what strategies to use against various key players of their side. The first step in planning will be to get together and discuss these things, then we still have to go out there and implement them.

For the first time in a long while, we will be playing a key home series without Anil Kumble in the team...
Yeah, right, obviously we are going to miss Kumble, who has an incredible record, you can't easily replace a player like that. Not having him around is a bit of a dampener, but on the positive side, it gives one of the other guys, the up and coming spinners, a chance to put his hand up and be counted.

I was chatting with the curator of the Wankhede Stadium and he was pointing out that on Indian wickets, the Aussies generally get quick 30s and 40s before the heat gets to them, and then they give it away. What do you think?
Well, maybe, but you can't have that as a strategy, you can't go in thinking, okay, this guy will get 30 and the heat will get to him. And also, it is a touch early to be thinking strategy -- we need to know what side we have, and what lineup they come up with for the tour. Besides, the idea should be to have general strategies, broad guidelines, but to stay flexible within those parameters.

Last time, when the Aussies toured here, they had this tour game against Bombay and Sachin told Rajesh Sutar to go out there and demolish Shane Warne. The Bombay team as a whole went after Warne in the warm-up game, and as a result, he was a spent force in the Tests. Do you think that kind of strategy will be useful this time as well -- to go after their key bowlers early on?
Maybe. It will be nice for them to get a couple of tough side games. There are many things that can be tried -- for instance, if the wicket for the first Test is a turner, give them a good batting wicket for the warm-up games -- these kind of things routinely happen to touring sides, it happens when we go abroad as well. You need though to keep in mind that this time, the Aussies have an advantage. The last time they were here, most of their younger batsmen had never toured India before, and touring for the first time is always tough. This time, it is different -- most of their top batsmen have good experience in Indian conditions, so you can expect things to be much tougher, they will be far better prepared. The last time they were here, we played superb cricket, we batted superbly, Anil bowled beautifully, so did Srinath. This time round, they are an even tougher side, their attack is more balanced, they have got good spinners AND quicks, so we will have to lift our game that much higher to be able to beat them.

You once told me that four bowlers isn't going to be enough in Indian conditions. Do you think we will have five bowlers this time, or will we continue to pack our batting?
It's hard to say, obviously Saurav (Ganguly) and John (Wright) are the ones to decide these things. And in any case, you don't make these decisions one month ahead of time, without even having seen the pitches or assessed the kind of form your players are in. I guess once we get into that camp, the thinking will begin.

So much seems to be riding on the camp -- but it is just six days long. Is that enough, for a series of this magnitude?
Actually, I am a strong believer in the theory that playing matches is more useful than having long camps, and most of our guys have in fact been playing competitive cricket of late, we are in the middle of our domestic season. So a six day camp is not all that bad, really -- it is more to get our thinking caps on, than to practise batting and bowling. Besides, there is a Challenger Series immediately after that and most of the guys will be around for those games too, so in a sense, the camp will simply continue. There is definitely no point in having a long camp, at the expense of missing a Duleep Trophy game. Generally, before going on tour it is a good idea to have a longish camp, but for a home series when your own domestic season is on, a six-day camp is fair enough.

Saurav was pretty unhappy about the camp being held in Chennai, he thought Bombay or Bangalore would have been better. What is your take?
Was he? I don't know -- I guess they have done it because of the Challenger Trophy, in any case there is no point worrying about it.

His interview at start of career:

How has been the journey from Lord's to Bourda?
It's been a very satisfying journey. It is my first year in international cricket and I came basically with the intentions
making a name for myself and establishing myself in the Indian team. I have sort of achieved that to a certain extent. Maybe a few things
could have gone differently, but all in all, it's been a very satisfying and fun filled year of international cricket and
I learnt a
lot during this period.

How much did playing for India 'A'

Not only A cricket but I played lot of first class cricket for almost four years before getting into the Indian side.
In retrospect
though I think it was a good thing because it toughened me mentally and gave me a bit more understanding of the game. I learnt
about the
game and about myself. I learnt how to handle the ups and downs, the
failures and successes so that when I came into international cricket
I was a lot more ready than what I would have been say a couple of
years before that.

What did you learn?
Cricket is a learning process. Experience in cricket relates a lot
to your life. You learn to take the good with the bad. You tend to
grow as a person. Become confident. That was something that happened
to me a couple of years ago and it helped me a lot when I came to
international cricket.

But what about the initial
struggle in the one-day tournaments at
Sharjah and SIngapore?

It was a difficult period and a stage when I was really worried
whether I would be able to make it in international cricket. I was
concerned that I wouldn't get selected to go to England, but luckily
for me, people who mattered had confidence in me and selected me on
the tour to england which changed my career.

But it was said that you
got to play just because of the fact that
GT Viswanath happened ot be the chairman of selectors and he was from
the same state?

Anyone who says that doesn't have respect for Mr. Viswanath and
obviously doesn't know him. I am sure a person of his caliber would
have never played favorites, It saddened me at that time when people
said that and it only made me more determined to prove myself and live
up to the confidence he had in me.

How much did having 5 or
6 state mates help when yo made your debut
and then continued in the side for the entire season?

It was really a big help having people whom you knew from a young
age playing with you. Anil and Sri were a great help to all of us as
they showed us the way. But having said that I was lucky to have been
made comfortable by all my mates when I made my debut. I know people
talk about it but the fact is that when we play together, it is for
the country and not the state. It is not 6 boys from Karnataka but six
Indians playing for India.

How have you accepted the

It has reflected in my whole approach to the game When I came into
first class cricket I was too serious and I used to take things too
seriously. As if it was a matter of life and death every time I went
out there. And then I learnt to enjoy the game and used the
experience. Obviously everyone wants to do well and give his best. You
must accept that there will be times when things wouldn't go well for
you. It is important to realize that the real joy is in playing the
game and not worrying about the success and failure part of it.

What is your assessment of
the last one year?

In international cricket, I was lucky that in one year I played in
conditions so different. In almost all the Test playing countries I
have experienced different people, different cultures, different
conditions and different kind of bowling. I sort of grew up to tackle
the challenges. I have been fortunate to have played so much cricket
in my first year. Success does not come so easily because you come up
against people who have more experience and more knowledge than
you. But you can only try and keep improving and maintain the
standards you have set to compete with such people.

Who influenced you?
Lot of factors. My parents have been a great source of
inspiration. It is ust the feeling of trying to do well for your
country. I chose cricket as a profession in my life and I would like
to compete with the best and to do that you have to be tough
mentally. The real job satisfaction comes from playing against the
best people in your profession and competing favorably with them.

Did you visualize this kind
of scenario?

You don't visualize. I started off dreaming to be a regular member
in the team. It is nice it has happened. I still have a lot more to
prove and achieve before I could be considered as a good player. I
have a lot to do still, and I would like to think I have done a little
bit for myself and my country in the last one year.

How did you learn to adapt?
You have to adapt. I have always maintained that if you consider
yourself as one of the top six bats men in the country then you would
have to be prepared to bat at any position. I understand it is not
easy to find the right position for everyone in the team but you can
manage to adjust when you are young. And I have always accepted the
responsibility to bat anywhere. I like this as a challenge. If you
take pride in being among the top six bats men of the country then you
should be able to bat at any position. I have played at almost every
position in the top six. It is a nice feeling and I can take strength
from it for the future.

But having a stable position
does help.... ?

Obviously, anyone would like to bat in one position because it
helps a lot. You can prepare better for it mentally. I am comfortable
in the middle order. Maybe opening can be difficult because it
requires different demands.

What about your number three

Number three is a crucial position. You never know when you would
be in. Sometimes you could be in second ball of a match. You learn to
play according got situations, attack or defend as the situation
demands. You have to lift your game. It is a responsible position and
I hope I will be able to do my best.

What are your plans in the
off season?

I have been laying quite well. I know I can improve and learn form
every series. Hopefully during the off season I can talk to people and
tighten my game a bit. Maybe pay a few more shots. You got to keep
improving because bowlers would have studied my game and would try to
work me out. I have to be prepared and keep improving.

It appears you have begun
to curb your shots?
It has happened over the years. Maybe at number three you have to
bat more cautiously. Not that I have tried to curb my shots. I have
been up against some quality bowling and not been able to play my
shots. I am a grafter and I know that is the way I can succeed
best. There are times when the situation may demand for me to play
more shots. Hopefully with time I shall be able to play more shots and
make runs at a pace quicker than I did in the last one year. In the
middle of my innings I should learn to pick the ones and twos better
which will ease the pressure a bit.

Do you agree you tend to
go into your shell?

I tend to go into my shell but that doesn't mean I have lost my
shots. The pull is not easy to play on slow wickets. I don't hook
too. I do tend to get bogged down and I need to pick the singles
more. I think it will come with experience. Azhar and Sachin told me
not to worry about not getting runs quickly. They told me it will come
with time. The shots would improve and you would tend to adapt
better. You got to keep an open mind. I talk to senior players and my
coach (Keki Tarapore). I try to talk to them because they are so
experienced. It is nice to be able to talk to them and to gain from
their knowledge. They have been really helpful but in the end you got
to sort out these problems yourself. You are the best judge to see
what works for you. That's the way I look at it. I like to analyze and
think about an innings. What I could have done to improve. Talk to
teammates and know what they feel. I try to talk to the bowlers to get
their reading about me. I like to analyze the series and the
season. In the time off, I can work on what needs to be done.

Do you know Sachin Tendulkar
has a high regard for you?
It is nice to know that the captain has high expectations from me
and has the confidence in my abilities. It sort of motivates you to do
your best. It has been a great experience playing with him this whole
year and I have learnt a lot from him.

How do you remain cool when

I don't get angry quickly. I don't get excited quickly. My
temperament has been like this from an early age. I have tried the
trial and error method. If you get angry you can't perform to your
best. I don't think about what others do or say. As far as possible I
try and just concentrate on my batting and not worry about things
around me.

Who do you bank on for help?
My coach Mr. Tarapore from my young age and every time I go to him
for advice. I talk to fellow players and like to get their views. I
talk to a lot of people and get ideas.

You read a lot. How does
it help?

Reading helps a lot really. I have always been a good reader. It
keeps your mind off the game, Reading is a less taxing way to keep
your mind off the game. I really enjoy reading, it gives me a lot of

Do you set goals?
Even if I set goals, I like to keep them to myself. I wanted to be
an important part of the Indian team, become a regular member and try
and contribute towards the success of the team abroad. Nothing pleases
me more than India winning. I work hard to improve the standards I
have achieved. I have tried to do the best according to the abilities
I have. My aims have to become higher since I have been playing for
one year now. I must try and become a match winner.

Which were your best moments?
When you grow up as a bats man you always want to score a Test
hundred. That's why I always cherish my first Test hundred. Also the
84 in the triangular final at Durban. I could do well in Tests and
also at the one-day level. These two knocks have been special to me.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

What they feel about Rahul Dravid

I rate Dravid as one of the top players in the World. He is the perfect role model for youngsters
-Sachin Tendulkar

Rahul Dravid is a mobile coaching clinic. You just have to watch and imbibe his technique.
- Former Pakistan player Rashid Latif
Rahul Dravid will make it as the next 'Indian Captain". We too wish him all the success. May his contribution in the field of cricket bring India back right on top in the days to come…
- Syed Kirmani
I think Rahul Dravid is one of the finest we have. I am very impressed with Rahul's technique and temperament.
- Chandu Borde
Dravid has been a class player for a long time now and we know his ability better than anyone. Averaging 21/2 hours at the crease against us is a fair stat. He's not like the other guys who love scoring off every ball, and there's no real weakness in his game either. He's mentally strong. You've just got to bowl well to him early on because he gets himself really set for a big innings once he is in.
- Glenn McGrath
'The Wall' (Dravid) is a solid player with very good technique.
- Mathew Hayden
He's a champion at everything. I really admire him. I am very impressed with the way he approaches life.
- Sourav Ganguly
He brings a serenity to the crease that is so good for the nerves in the dressing-room. He also helps ease the tension away by the way he plays. He then proceeds to make the fastest of bowlers look easy to bat against. His economy of movement and the preciseness of his footwork gets him into position quickly, and so, the bowlers look quite clueless. The fastest of deliveries is played as if it's done every day and with minimum fuss.
- Sunil Gavaskar
He is one of the guys who works extra time over his fitness levels and look at his scores this season. Sourav and I have been really lucky that Rahul (Dravid) has been tremendously loyal to both of us.
- Former Indian Coach, John Wright
Rahul is as good as anyone in the world.
- Shane Warne
I have also not seen him lose his temper. He has that uncanny skill of keeping his frustrations to himself. He hates to get out though and you can see the restlessness in him till he gets his act together in the next outing. He is the most hard-working guy in the side.
- Javagal Srinath

I learn from and admire his consistency. We have been together for four-five years and it is a great learning process to bat with him. It definitely helps when I bat alongside Rahul, a guy who is so intense and is concentrating at all times kind of inspires you at the other end.
- VVS Laxman

Rahul is always hard to bowl to, as he is technically very sound. He is an attacking player once he gets his eye in. He also has the ability to stay long, which the team experienced during the Test match in Calcutta."
- Brett lee
We always knew he was a good player but now we're going to have come up with a new plan to get him out. He's a pretty good role model for kids. He's pretty steady in what he does and he does things the right way, and he's very dedicated. He has a great technique and a great temperament.
- Steve Waugh
He (Dravid) batted like God here once again so I'm not surprised the way he's played.
- Sourav after the Adelaide win

Rahul is of the thinking sort. His strengths are his resilience and tremendous ability to grasp things.
- Father, Sharad Dravid
I respect Dravid a lot. He is a great player and my favourite too. I don't think any other Indian batsman is as difficult to bowl to. He has got the class.
- Danish Kaneria
He is very stable and balanced - necessary characteristics to be able to play like he does.
- Romi Dev, wife of Kapil Dev

He is really very nice. Whenever we meet, he asks about the children and the family. Now that he is married to a doctor, we will have more to talk about
- Anjali Tendulkar, wife of Sachin Tendulkar

Rahul was never in doubt about his priorities, and cricket was always first. He was keen, and had a burning desire to succeed, and was always focused. He was playing with determination, and it was obvious that he wanted to reach a goal. So one never had to push Rahul Dravid.
- Karnataka Coach Roger Binny
He is a sensible cricketer with a calm presence. I think he can do a good job with captaincy.
- Wasim Akram
Even though Sachin is great, I have always found Rahul more solid and hard to get out. He has a solid defense and plays less shots than others. When a batsman plays less shots then it is tough to get him as he makes less mistakes.
- Shoaib Akhtar
Rahul reminds me so much of Dilip, Sunil (Gavaskar) and that team which performed so consistently. He is a wonderfully reliable player.
- Manali Vensarkar, wife of Dilip Vengsarkar

To have transformed himself into a world-beater speaks a lot about Dravid as a person.
- Ritu Shashtri, wife of Ravi Shashtri

It does not get better than what Rahul Dravid did in this Test. His batting was outstanding. Everyone has already exhausted superlatives so I would not bother myself with any additional praise but you could be sure my admiration for him has grown tremendously.
- Allan Border on how Rahul batted in the Adelaide Test