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Since 1st March, 1999
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No team has an advantage, says Dravid

Colombo: Team India captain Rahul Dravid on Friday said his team’s emphatic series victory when they last met Sri Lanka would not give them any psychological advantage in the upcoming tri-series since they are very difficult opponents at home.

India had thrashed the Lankans 6-1 at home in October last year, but Dravid said their Asian rivals had come a long way since then.

“I don’t believe in such things as psychological advantage. The 6-1 win was a long time ago and lot of water has gone under the bridge,” Dravid said at a press conference ahead of the tournament which has South Africa as the third team.

“All three teams start on even footing and it will be a matter of who gets used to the conditions fast and better,” the Indian skipper added.

Dravid said India would find their task that much harder as the Lankan team has been on a roll with good performances in England followed by the 2-0 Test series win over South Africa and the African team themselves were no easy meat.

“Sri Lanka have played well recently and the series in England has given them confidence. They have the momentum going and they are specially formidable at home,” he said.

“South Africa are ranked No. 2 in the world. They have some explosive players and in the last two years, if you look at their record, they have been second only to Australia. They even successfully chased a target of 434,” Dravid said.

The Bangalorean said handling the middle overs in batting would be one of the key areas for India’s success.

“We did well against the same set of spinners when they came to India, hopefully we can do well here as well. The key is to bat well in the middle overs. One of the areas where we failed last time was that we did not play bowlers like Tillekaratene Dilshan and Sanath Jayasuriya well.”

Dravid, however, warned about the danger of focusing only on tackling Sri Lanka’s spearhead Muttiah Muralidharan.

“We have played Murali in the past. He is a difficult bowler, especially at home under lights. So, the strategy for teams coming here has been about playing Murali.

“But we cannot focus on one bowler. They also have Chaminda Vaas and Dilhara Fernando, and Lasith Malinga has also been bowling well.

“We tend to forget that there is the whole South African team to be dealt with.”

Dravid denied that Irfan Pathan was being subjected to “too much workload” and said the hype over his brief loss of form was only because he had raised everyone’s expectations by his performances.

Dravid summarily dismissed Pathan’s own reported comments to a television channel that by asking to open the batting as well as bowling, the team was leaving too much on his plate.

“I am not sure if Irfan had said that, but from whatever conversation I have had with him, I could say that he had never felt the workload was too much on him,” Dravid said in his first press conference since arriving in Sri Lanka on Thursday night.

“I can say that Irfan had always enjoyed and relished the challenge. People should remember that he missed out only on Test cricket,” the skipper said, referring to Pathan sitting out of three Tests on the recent tour of the West Indies.

“He hasn’t missed a one-dayer. He is an integral part of our team.” (PTI)

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