| Rahul Dravid
Nagpur: Rahul Dravid isn’t the superstitious kind (“I’m not anywhere close to being one” he told The Telegraph, grinning), but that hasn’t stopped him from hoping that the good times in ODIs return with Sunday’s match here against the West Indies.
“Our (last) period of success began in Nagpur, with the ODI versus Sri Lanka (October 2005)... I’ve done well here and so has the team... Hopefully, it’s going to start all over again,” the Orange City’s jamai remarked on Wednesday.
Despite having lost both ODIs against the West Indies, the Indians have a 50-50 record in Nagpur. The last ODI here was Dravid’s first as the full-fledged Team India captain. Incidentally, his Test average at the VCA Stadium is 64.71. In ODIs, it’s as much as 110.33.
In recent times, of course, the Indians haven’t done well versus the West Indies. “Yes, that’s a fact and, so, this four-match series is an opportunity to set the record straight and give us momentum before the World Cup,” Dravid said.
Ramnaresh Sarwan isn’t coming as he’s injured, but he accepted Brian Lara’s men would still be formidable. “They’ve been playing very good one-day cricket and made the Champions Trophy final... We’ve got to (quickly) get into the one-day mode...”
Dravid added: “For us, the series won’t be about individuals, won’t be about who bats where and numbers... It will be about how we play as a team...” He didn’t reveal where newly-appointed vice-captain Sachin Tendulkar would bat, but there’s a chance he may not open.
Indeed, there’s talk that comeback men Sourav Ganguly and Robin Uthappa could launch the innings, with Sachin getting a middle-order berth.
Dravid, by the way, didn’t say much about Sachin’s ‘elevation’. “Vice-captain or not, I’ve always used him as a sounding board... It’s good to have him (as vice-captain), just as it was good to have (Virender) Sehwag and (V.V.S.) Laxman...”
That both specialist spinners are offies is something that intrigues many. Dravid, however, argued Harbhajan Singh and Ramesh Powar are “different and complement each other.” While Harbhajan is “quicker” through the air and relies on “bounce,” the less experienced Powar depends on “flight and guile.”
Dravid candidly pointed out that everybody in the squad for the first two ODIs (the second match is in Cuttack on January 24) is unlikely to get an opportunity and emphasised that he looked at both the “short and long term.”
As many as six — Sourav, Gautam Gambhir, Joginder Sharma, Powar, Rudra Pratap Singh and Uthappa — have made a comeback, but Dravid didn’t feel it was a starting-all-over-again scenario.
“We’ve got players who’ve done well in domestic cricket... It’s a recognition of that and lets them know they’re in the scheme of things and can replace (the regular ones)... Hopefully, we’re going to start on a winning note and take that confidence forward... To the rest of the series, the one against Sri Lanka next month and the World Cup...”
According to the captain, the Sachins and Uthappas have only assembled a day earlier than usual and the build-up to the ODIs versus the West Indies “didn’t” have camp-status. The Board, then, got it wrong.