Dravid: Old Trafford defeat hurt
India captain Rahul Dravid admits his side will still be smarting from their latest NatWest Series defeat to England when the fifth match begins at Headingley Carnegie on Sunday.
The tourists looked likely to level the seven-match contest when, chasing 213 to win, the home side crashed to 114 for seven under the Old Trafford floodlights last night.
But that was a good as it got for India, who were dealt a three-wicket defeat and a 3-1 series deficit after Stuart Broad and Ravi Bopara put on a record 99-run partnership for the eighth wicket.
Dravid insists his side are determined to put that right in Leeds and prevent England taking an unassailable lead in the best-of-seven contest.
“It’s tough, but I think when we reach Headingley we’ll be pretty keen,” Dravid said.
“We’ll know in the back of our minds that we could have won that game. It will be disappointing but we know the games have been close and the series could so easily have been different.”
Part of India’s problem has been the failure of their top order to ignite.
Aside from a 113-run partnership in their sole victory in Bristol, openers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly have put on stands of just 17, 35 and 15 on Thursday.
Dravid believes the vastly-experience duo are still the right men to start the India innings.
“You want your best players facing the most number of balls and they’ve been the most successful opening pair for us all these years,” he said.
“When we’ve tried to move them around it probably hasn’t worked as well. They’ve had a lot of success.
“The game that we won in this series was the game that they had a 100-run partnership in.
“They’ve played some critical partnerships in Belfast before we came here as well so they’re both in good form and scoring runs.
“They’re probably our best opening pair at this stage. We can obviously review it but they’ve had all their success in the top half of our innings for us.”
But what has really let the tourists down throughout the entire series has been their abject fielding, something that was also in evidence last night as England scored a number of easily-preventable boundaries.
Dravid freely admits to the Achilles heel.
“Our fielding is an area that can hurt us, particularly in these tight, low-scoring games,” he said.
“If you’ve got six or seven guys in the ring trying to save singles but the opposition is still able to take them, it’s tough.”
India are sweating on the fitness of seam bowler Zaheer Khan for Sunday’s clash.
He twisted an ankle during Thursday’s match but will be given ice treatment by the team physio and reassessed on Saturday.
Dravid said: “It’s just going to be a question of waiting and seeing how he is. We’ll put some ice on it and we’ve got a couple of days but hopefully he’ll be all right.
Losing Zaheer would be a huge blow to India’s chances of getting back into the series even though he has only taken two wickets in the three games he has played so far.