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Since 1st March, 1999
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Never enjoyed bowling to Dravid, says Shoaib
- Pakistan players surprised at former India captain’s exclusion

Lahore: Pakistan players believe that the decision to drop former India captain Rahul Dravid for the first two one-day Internationals will give them a big advantage.

The Indian selectors left out Dravid for the games against Pakistan in Guwahati and Mohali on November 5 and 8 after he had a poor series at home against Australia .

Younis Khan said Dravid was a fantastic player who had always led from the front.

“The advantage is with us… Because if India don’t perform well or lose the first two games, the pressure will increase on their selectors and captain since they dropped someone like Dravid,” Younis said on Sunday.

“The pressure is already on India as they are playing at home, and will only increase for their selectors and team management and that will benefit us in the long run.”

Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who is making a comeback to the team in the final one-dayer against South Africa, said he was happy he did not have to bowl to Dravid.

“He is a very difficult batsman to dislodge and as a bowler I never enjoyed bowling to him… His wicket was always a prized one for me.

“I was not expecting their selectors would drop him so soon because he is such a quality player.”

Mohammed Asif said he was looking forward to the Indian tour but was surprised Dravid had been left out.

“The first two matches of any series are always important. His absence will make a difference to our attitude because he is a world class player and one of the best in the world,” Asif said.

Asif felt Dravid’s absence will also put more pressure on India’s young players to perform . “This should work to our advantage.”

Batsman Yasir Hameed said he had always tried to emulate Dravid and was surprised to learn he was not picked for the first two one-dayers.

“He is such an experienced player and has scored so many runs. His presence has always been invaluable to the Indian team. So I am surprised they should drop him for the first two games which eventually will set the pace and mood for the coming series.”

Former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif said the Indian selectors had blundered by omitting Dravid.

“He has struggled in recent matches but it is just a matter of time before he will return to form. I just think by dropping him the Indian selectors will dent his confidence for the Tests as well.”

Dravid, meanwhile, declined to comment on his omission from the squad. “It’s a long season ahead of us,” was Dravid’s only reaction while leaving New Delhi after flagging off the half marathon.

The 34-year-old flagged off the great Delhi run and cheered nearly 20,000 participants by waving at them. His presence ended up creating a halt as the participants stopped to have a look at the cricketer. Ultimately the organisers stepped in and urged the runners to start the race.

The former skipper, however, was in no mood to entertain the waiting media and successfully managed to keep them at bay, on one occasion by literally sprinting off after the flag-off of the wheelchair run.

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