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I was fired up for the big Test: Dravid

S. Dinakar

‘Batting in the scorching heat was physically demanding'

PHOTO: AFP

WELL DONE, PRO!Rahul Dravid, who scored a typically workmanlike century, is congratulated by West Indies leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, who had a good Test with a seven-wicket haul. —

Kingston: Rahul Dravid's commitment shone through during his memorable century in the Indian second innings here on Wednesday.

Typically, he battled his way through tough periods during his priceless 112 for India; the next highest individual score in the Indian innings was Amit Mishra's 28.

Revealed the resilient Dravid later, “Rampaul bowled well in the morning. He was very tight. You need to back yourself, enjoy the contest. I knew I had to survive that spell. When batting gets easier, you must be there to cash in on it.”

Role model

An ideal role model, Dravid has always had words of guidance for the younger batsmen. “I keep telling them to weather the storm, go through the intensity of a spell of probably eight to 12 overs.”

Added Dravid, “It's easy to allow the atmosphere to work on your mind, when the deliveries from the quicks are flying around or the spinners are getting a lot of purchase. You need to fight your way out of that phase.”

The great batsman recalled an occasion, early in his career, when he had to rely on his self-belief.

“It was the Test in Johannesburg in 1997. Donald and Pollock were bowling terrific spells and I thought I would never be able to cope with that sort of bowling. You need to get through it, fight your way, grit your teeth.” Dravid came up with a blood-and-guts hundred in that innings.

Dravid said batting in the scorching heat at the Sabina Park was physically demanding.

“I came here just three days before the Test. The combination of jet lag, getting up early in the morning, having not played a Test for a long time and playing in these hot conditions has been very tiring.

“You may do as much physical workout in the gym or run laps of the ground but the sheer effort of batting and fielding and staying on the field needs practice.

“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 and I was fired up.”

About his hundred here, Dravid said, “I love the contest when you have your back to the wall. It improves your concentration and your focus.

“I didn't score many runs for long periods during the innings but probably it was the right thing to do on this pitch,” he said.

This was an effort where Dravid regularly lost partners at the other end.

He said, “What's happening at the other end does not make a difference to me. My job is to focus.

“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.”

Asked about him refusing singles during the early stages of his crucial partnership with Amit Mishra, Dravid said, “I was refusing singles off the first two balls of the over. Sometimes this gets the bowlers to relax mentally and deliver boundary balls.”

Difficult for batsmen

Although the surface favoured the bowlers, Dravid said it was not a nasty one.

“The pitch favours the bowlers slightly and that's how it should be in Tests. The spinners are getting the ball to turn and the pacemen are extracting bounce. It's difficult for batsmen if a bowler bowls in the right areas.”

The former India captain had words of praise for pacemen Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar. “Ishant has been impressive. And Praveen is a very clever and crafty bowler.”

From an Indian perspective, he identifies Shivnarine Chanderpaul as the dangerman.

West Indies captain Darren Sammy admitted he did not sleep well on Tuesday night after having dropped Dravid, on six, off paceman Rampaul on day two.

He gave Dravid credit for a battling hundred.

“He did not attempt a pull till he was on 98. That's why he is called ‘The Wall',” said Sammy. Nevertheless, he patted his bowlers for restricting India to a score below 300 in both the innings.

The West Indian captain also scalped four with his niggardly seamers.

“My job is to bowl dot balls and maiden overs and build pressure. That has been my role from the start of my career,” Sammy said.

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