Dravid wants Irish luck
Rahul Dravid wants to invoke the spirit of Belfast - preferably against Andrew Flintoff - at The Brit Oval on Wednesday.
India’s captain believes the tourists have been a little fortunate to remain in with a chance of winning the seven-match NatWest series, after failing to play up to their potential.
But as they target victory in the final two matches to snatch the silverware and complete a clean sweep of series victories in Britain this summer, Dravid is comforted by the resilience India showed to beat South Africa at Stormont at the start of their trip.
In inhospitably cold conditions in Northern Ireland, Dravid’s team got themselves into a similar position - needing to win twice to beat South Africa in the Future Cup.
They have since outpointed England 1-0 in a three-match Test series - and are still alive in the one-dayers too, thanks to their Duckworth-Lewis win at Headingley on Sunday to bring the score back to 3-2.
“These games are tough games, must-win games - and it is important how you cope in them,” said Dravid, as he prepared for the first of two London matches this week.
“We coped really well in Ireland. We had to win two back-to-back against South Africa. We did that, and it would be great if we could go one better and win three in a row.
“That starts with tomorrow - and will happen only if we play good cricket.”
Neither Dravid nor anyone in the England camp appears to know whether Flintoff will be fit, after suffering more aggravation from his troublesome left ankle.
But as the England all-rounder left The Brit Oval to consult his specialist yet again, Dravid made it clear he hopes he can play a full part.
“We know Andrew does make a difference to their side - it’s pretty obvious what an impact a player like him can make,” he said.
“We won in Bristol with Andrew there - and you like to play against people like Andrew. It’s a great challenge playing against someone like him, so we’d like to play against him again.”
While India are hoping to be able to pick from a fully-fit squad - pace bowler Zaheer Khan’s ankle is bearing up - Flintoff is just one of England’s injury victims.
His fellow all-rounder Ravi Bopara has been ruled out of this series and this month’s ICC World Twenty20 because of his broken thumb - and Chris Tremlett is missing with a foot problem. Dravid, however, does not see England’s raft of injuries - or India’s winning momentum from Leeds - as significant pointers.
“I’m sure they have got decent and adequate replacements as well in the one-day game, and fresh faces coming in sometimes helps,” he said.
“In one-day cricket, it really makes very little difference what the result of the last game was. It’s just the performance on the day that is important.
“We’re still in with a chance in the series, in spite of the fact we haven’t played up to our potential.
“We’ve batted and bowled well in patches - but definitely in the field, we haven’t done as well as we can - so we think we are quite fortunate to be in a position to still win the series.”
India’s fielding has been notably short of what is expected at international level - a fact Dravid does not dispute.
“We can’t make our fielders brilliant overnight,” he accepts.
“But there are little things we can do, keep our intensity up right through the 50 overs - and we can definitely catch better.
“We’re actually a good catching side; we just didn’t catch well in the last game.”
Dravid knows his team must be on top of their game in all disciplines if they are to beat opponents he rates highly.
“England are playing really good one-day cricket, and we’ve had to play really well to beat them in the two games we’ve won,” he said.
“We have been a bit inconsistent in our one-day performances, and the challenge is to back up one good showing with another.”