The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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ĎDravid the greatest Indian batsmaní
- Kapil, captain during the last Ďbigí series win till the one in WI, holds forth

Calcutta: Team Indiaís 2-0 win over Zimbabwe last September was the first Test series success outside the sub-continent in 19 years. Given the quality of the home team, though, nobody treated that as special. The last Ďbigí win (till the one in the West Indies early on Monday), therefore, was in England exactly two decades ago. The then-captain, Kapil Dev, spoke to The Telegraph some hours after the 49-run victory in Kingston.

The following are excerpts

On India requiring 20 years for a Ďbigí series success outside the sub-continent

That has been disappointing' We did, of course, come close to beating Australia in Australia (2003-04)' This win has been sweet, as all victories are, but there are loose ends to tie up'

On the significance of this win

The boys should enjoy the moment, but not lose sight of what lies ahead. One series may be over, but the next is never far away.

On the quality of the Brian Lara-led West Indies team

Itís not fair to compare teams from different generations, but everyone agrees the present one had the weakest attack.

On the ďloose endsĒ

(After a pause) The team management must be careful in its treatment of matchwinners' In my opinion, Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan werenít treated well' Bhajji only played the last two Tests, Pathan got picked just once (in the four-Test series)' Surely, both Greg Chappell and Rahul Dravid are aware of the importance of confidence' If somebody is short, the coach and captain have to inject confidence, not reduce it even more.

On the victory coming sans Pathan

I donít wish to get into a debate, but Pathan remains among the top five allrounders' When he did well, in different positions, the coach got credit' Why wasnít the coach blamed when he wasnít doing well' Also, there shouldnít be double-standards' Earlier this year, Virender Sehwag was given an extended run despite poor form' That was done because heís a matchwinner' I donít have a problem with that, but the bowlers must be treated the same way. Bhajji, for example, is a matchwinner and canít be treated the way he was at the start of the Test series.

On Chappell

Weíve won the Test series, but what happened in the ODIs' Experimenting in a limited way is fine, not when done whimsically' Chappell has to look at the larger picture and ensure consistency' Surely, he wouldnít have liked situations when he only came to know of where he would bat on the morning of a match.

On Dravidís batting

Where Iím concerned, Dravid is the greatest Indian batsman' Nobody has matched his consistency overseas and, irrespective of when he quits, he will be saluted as our greatest' Indeed, today, he doesnít have to prove anything anywhere. Captain or not, his commitment has been exceptional' He knows which ball to hit and which to defend' Itís this shot-selection which sets him apart... Helps him stay one step ahead of the rest.

[Dravidís average in 57 away Tests is 65.28; at home itís 51.52 in 47 appearances. Then, 15 of his 23 hundreds have been scripted overseas. As also 25 of his 46 half-centuries.]

On whether he expected Dravidís batting to dip once he got the captaincy full-time last October

No' His mental make-up is different and he isnít the type to change his style or approach to suit the position he holds' He has always shown the highest commitment' (After a pause) If I can add, Sourav Gangulyís level of commitment rose when he became the captain' His make-up was different and, clearly, captaincy changed him.

On whether itís going to be even more difficult now for Sourav to make a comeback

Yes, if the cricketer in me is to give you the answer' Itís probably impossible and Sourav should have retired some time back' He would have retained all the respect' If Iím to talk as a simple human being, then Souravís determination to make a big league return is to be commended' Iím not the type to discourage anybody and a Mohinder Amarnath kept making comebacks.

On whether Sreesanth is the best among the quicks to have surfaced after 2000

No' Heís energetic and has been getting breakthroughs, but has much to learn' His body moves too much and he doesnít have the stability of, say, (Lakshmipathy) Balaji' The latter, I think, has been our finest in recent years' Itís a pity that injuries have harmed his career.

On Munaf Patel, who earned high marks in the West Indies

I like him' Heís good, but needs to work on his run-up' Thatís an important area.

Finally, on memories of the fantastic summer of 1986

(Laughs) Donít remember much' In fact, even today, Iím disappointed we didnít win the Edgbaston Test' That would have made it 3-0' More than anything else, we learnt that you need 20 wickets to win a Test.

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