Dravid backs India turnaround
Captain Rahul Dravid believes India thrive in must-win scenarios as they bid to stay alive in the NatWest Series.
India cannot afford to lose again in the seven-match series, starting at Headingley Carnegie on Sunday, having fallen 3-1 behind to Paul Collingwood’s revitalised England.
But the Indians have a capacity for overturning deficits, most famously when they beat Australia in a Test series six years ago and most recently when they came from 1-0 down to defeat South Africa in limited-overs cricket earlier this summer.
“We have played some of our best cricket when we’ve had our backs to the wall,” said Dravid.
“We have spoken about that but it is a case of going out and executing it.
“We want to finish what has been a pretty good tour for us strongly.
“We know we have our backs to the wall here but the boys are also aware that the games were close.
“If a few things went this way or that way the scoreline could be very different. So that is at the back of our mind.”
India should have levelled things at Old Trafford on Thursday night and would have but for an inspirational eighth-wicket stand of 99 unbeaten runs by Ravi Bopara and man of the match Stuart Broad.
“It was disappointing but I haven’t felt it has damaged morale as such,” insisted Dravid.
“We have discussed the fact we maybe need to maintain the energy levels right through until the end of the innings.
“Maybe towards the last 25-30 runs those levels did dip, the boys had really tried hard and maybe the disappointment crept in, but we need to keep fighting right until the end.”
Left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan, the most prolific bowler in the Test series between the countries this summer, had his ankle iced on Saturday in a bid to be fit for the Leeds contest.
“If his ankle is fine and holds up then great,” said Dravid. “It was a bit swollen after the last game but it has come down drastically in the last 24 hours.
“We obviously want our best players in a game like this, when you know you have to win the next couple just to stay alive in the series.
“But if he is not fit he is not fit, we will play someone else.”
Munaf Patel, who is scheduled for a late-season stint with Worcestershire after this series concludes, would be Zaheer’s replacement while former captain Sourav Ganguly missed Sunday’s practice feeling unwell but is expected to play.
England do not have good recent memories of Headingley, having lost to Sri Lanka by eight wickets with an amazing 75 balls to spare last summer despite posting a target of 322.
That defeat came just a couple of months after a 5-1 thrashing in India, but this is a different English side, something recognised by Dravid.
“A lot of the young players are now maturing, they have a bit more balance, there are players producing match-winning performances who are in their early 20s,” he said.
“There are some good signs. The challenge for both India and England is to be able to go outside of our own conditions and still be able to compete successfully.
“Australia are the only ones at the moment that can do that.”