The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Munaf was exceptional’
- Sourav needs couple of days’ rest: Dravid

Montego Bay: Fresh from steam-rolling the West Indies in their final warm-up match on Friday, Team India captain Rahul Dravid said key players in his team were approaching top form and fitness.

“Most key players are finding form and fitness which is a good sign for us,” Dravid said after India thrashed the hosts by nine wickets.

Led by Munaf Patel (four for 10) and Irfan Pathan (three for 25), India skittled out the Windies for a mere 85 in 25.5 overs before coasting home in 18.3 overs. Robin Uthappa (35 not out) and Dinesh Karthik (38 not out) shrugged off another disappointing outing from Virender Sehwag (0).

The Team India captain felt the outing provided an idea as to what would be the best bowling combination.

“Seamers can be very dangerous as well. We now have an idea on whom to go with at least in the early part of the tournament,” Dravid said.

Former captain Sourav Ganguly was withdrawn from the field after 13 overs to protect an ankle injury and did not bat, but Dravid said there was no risk of him missing India’s opening encounter against Bangladesh on March 17.

“He has a slight niggle, bit of a sore ankle. With 13 players we had the advantage of being able to bat someone who didn’t need to field, so we took advantage of that. With a couple of days’ rest he should be okay,” Dravid said.

Praising all the bowlers, he had special words for Munaf.

“Ajit and Zaheer have just continued where they had left off at home. Irfan got the new ball in the previous game and bowled in one spell here. He is showing improvement, so that’s good.

“But I thought Munaf was exceptional. He bowled in superb areas and maintained a superb line,” he said.

Buoyed by their second straight win in warm-up matches, Dravid said the team would look to maintain the momentum.

“To beat them (the West Indies) in their den in the manner we did is something we can take a lot of confidence from. It’s something we would like to build on going into the main draw,” Dravid said.

Even though conditions may be different in Port of Spain, where India will play the group matches, Friday’s win was an important one, he said.

“Momentum is important in a World Cup and we are happy with our game at the moment,” Dravid added.

Dravid feels group B, where India are placed with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and minnows Bermuda, is the toughest.

“Bangladesh is probably the ninth Test nation in the world so in that sense, outside the top eight, they are the closest in terms of ability.”

Dravid also came out in strong support of Sehwag despite his consistent failures.

“It’s not as if I am supporting some Jo Doe or Ramadin. Sehwag is a player who has a triple century in Test. He is not a ‘nobody’. He has done well over the years.”

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