Dravid heartened by defiant display
Rahul Dravid has not given up hope on India saving the fourth and final npower Test match, but admits he will take a degree of satisfaction from his stellar performance even if the tourists suffer defeat tomorrow.
The man known as The Wall was at his defiant best today as he advanced from his overnight 57 to 146 not out in India’s first-innings score of 300.
Having carried his bat for a 266-ball knock spanning over six hours, Dravid was pressed into action again 10 minutes later after Andrew Strauss had enforced the follow-on, with Gautam Gambhir still feeling the effects of a bump to the head he suffered when fielding on Friday.
The 38-year-old was unable to see out another session and fell for 13 when he was caught by Alastair Cook at short-leg off Graeme Swann. Although it took a review to confirm his departure, he admitted: "I think I did get a little bit of a feather on it."
However, his heroic efforts have at least given India, who still trail by 162 on 129 for three, a chance of avoiding a 4-0 series whitewash.
When asked about today’s century, his 35th in Test cricket, the erudite Dravid responded: “The series has been personally quite satisfying in terms of the quality of my batsmanship, against what I think has been a very good bowling attack. For me, it’s been nice to be able to play well.
“It will be mixed feelings (if India lose), but I guess there will definitely be a sense of satisfaction at the way I played, and I’m still hoping that we will be able to draw this Test match.
“I’ve not given up hope on that, Sachin (Tendulkar, who reached stumps on 35 not out) is still batting and is looking good, so who knows?”
Many were surprised to see Dravid opening the batting once again when India began their second innings, but he explained: “I don’t think there was any debate. Gautam’s still not feeling great, so I knew I was going to be opening.
“I just had a stretch and tried to get as much liquid into my body as possible.
“In a sense I sort of felt that I was in the flow, that I had just batted and it was just another 10-minute break. It was not an ideal situation, but it is exceptional circumstances and can’t be helped.
“Mentally I was ready for it. I knew if I got out (in the first innings) there would be a quick turnaround as there weren’t too many wickets left or if I was still there at the end I would have to turn around and come quickly. It was there at the back of my mind right through.”
While Dravid has now compiled three hundreds in this series, the remainder of India’s batting line-up have all failed to register a three-figure score.
However, the tourists’ form batsman refused to apportion blame to his team-mates when questioned about their collective failure thus far.
“It’s not frustrating in the sense that I know they have put in the effort,” he said.
“The guys have tried, practiced hard, sometimes the results just haven’t gone our way, but the guys have tried their best and sometimes these things happen.
“I’ve had tough tours and it’s just sad for us that collectively we’ve had a really tough tour, that hasn’t happened to us in a really long time.
“We generally have two or three guys, with the quality of our line-up, who succeed, but obviously this time we haven’t clicked as a unit, which has been sad.
“I think it’s been a combination of things. Obviously, England’s bowling attack has been very good and they have bowled with a lot of discipline.
“The ball has swung and they have swung the ball at pace, sometimes right through the 70-80 overs, which is a challenge and the wickets have been a challenge as well; they have been pretty spicy wickets.
“Also, we haven’t been at the top of our game, so it is a combination of things, you can’t pin it down to one factor. They are a good attack; they have all their bases covered.”
Although he retains the belief that India can still escape with a draw, Dravid concedes his side are in a difficult position heading into the final day.
He admitted: “From our point of view it was a bit disappointing to lose three wickets in the evening. Losing (VVS) Laxman towards the end there was a bit of a blow because it does make a difference when you have got two set batsmen coming in the next day.”
Much now looks set to depend on whether Tendulkar, who currently stands on 99 international centuries, can bat for a lengthy period tomorrow.
“Hopefully tomorrow Sachin has a big day that everyone, including the whole of England, has been waiting for this summer,” Dravid added.