Fri, Jun 24, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Dravid digs deep to put India ahead

‘LAST IT OUT’:The veteran cricketer offered advice to his younger teammates, saying that when they think the game is getting hard, if they can hold on, it becomes easier

AFP, KINGSTON

Indian batsman Rahul Dravid celebrates after scoring a century on Wednesday during the third day of the first Test match against the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica.

Photo: AFP

Rahul Dravid admitted that age may now be catching up with him, testing his resolve and durability in the longer form of the game.

The former Indian captain, who scored his 32nd Test 100 against the West Indies on the third day of the first Test at Sabina Park on Wednesday, admitted it had been a physically demanding exercise.

“It was tough physically,” he said. “I came here just three days ago. The jet lag, getting up early morning, having not played a Test for a long time, and playing in these hot conditions has been very tiring.”

Dravid batted for close to seven hours, hitting 10 fours and a six in 112 from 274 balls, anchoring India to 252 in their second innings, leaving West Indies to pursue 326 for victory.

“You could do as much -physical workout; do the bike and gym and run laps of ground, but the sheer effort of batting and fielding and staying on the field and then immediately come to bat, needs practice,” he said. “I sweat a lot, so physically it’s always been a contest for me. That’s why I have to work harder on my fitness for I know the way I bat, I have to stay in for long periods.”

“But it was a big Test match, and I was fired up, I felt as if I was in my space. Hopefully, we can win the Test and get a day’s rest,” he said.

Dravid was a pillar of defiance, knocking the resolve out of a purposeful West Indies, but his example failed to resonate to some of the other batsmen.

“I try telling them [the youngsters] to weather the storm; go through the intensity of a spell which might last eight, 10 or 12 overs,” he said. “You fight your way and then it becomes easy. It’s easy to get caught up when things around you are buzzing with noise; balls are flying, and spinners are getting big help. You then start thinking it’s hard, but if you last it out, it becomes easier.”

“[On Wednesday] in the morning, Ravi Rampaul kept it tight. I knew I had to go through that spell. You need to back yourself; need to enjoy the contest. It’s going to get easier and then you must be there to capitalize on it,” he said. “I remember in Johannesburg [in 1997], Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock were bowling a great spell, and I thought it was really tough, and I would never be able to play. You need to get through it, fight your way, grit your teeth. Suddenly, it gets easier.”

Dravid indicated that the lack of support from the other batsmen did very little to make his mind waver.

“It doesn’t make a difference to me what’s happening at the other end. My job is to focus,” he said. “But when you lose wickets, it’s the opposition who picks up. When a new batsman comes in, you know the rivals have got their game together, and there would be another 12 to 14 overs of intensity.”

Dravid praised the West Indies for the intensity that they showed throughout the day, making him draw on his wealth of experience to bring the best out of him.

“I love the contest,” he said. “When you are back to the wall, it improves your concentration, your focus. It helped me focus my mind, get it in the right place, and I felt in control. For long periods of time, I didn’t score many runs, but considering the pitch, it probably was the right thing.”

At the end of it all, Dravid -believed that his side held most, if not all the aces, with the West Indies needing 195 more runs with seven second innings wickets standing.

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