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A great honour, says Dravid

Sports Reporter

`The guys are keen and are looking forward to starting the new season with a new coach'

IN THE HOT SEAT: India captain Rahul Dravid and coach Greg Chappell are looking forward with confidence to the Sri Lanka tour. — Photo: K. Bhagya Prakash

Bangalore: Rahul Dravid has always been the quintessential team man and he has never shied away from any challenge — be it rescuing the Indian batting time and again or stepping in as stand-by captain at the last minute.

However, for the first time in his career, Dravid has been named captain for a full series. Dravid is ready for the challenge and termed it an "honour and privilege" to lead India in the tri-series in Sri Lanka from July 30 to August 9.

In his interaction with the media here on Tuesday evening, Dravid said: "Leading the country is an honour and a privilege. Whether you are given one day's notice or 10, I never had any complaints regarding that. It is going to be a huge challenge. Sri Lanka is a place where we have not done particularly well in one-day cricket and this gives us a chance to correct that. The guys are keen and we are looking forward to starting the new season with a new coach and putting some new things in place. Yes it is a bit different this time as I get a bit more time to interact with the boys, gives me a chance to put some strategies in place, gives me a bit more time, that is probably the only difference"

Dravid also reiterated that he was not perturbed about being named captain for just one series. "I am picked as a captain for the series and that's how it is, you are picked as a player and as a captain on a series-to-series basis and that is the way you have to look at it. I have always played my cricket as a batsman, as a normal player, each match at a time, and that is how I am going to take my captaincy, one match at a time and not look too far ahead and that is what has achieved success for me as a player and I hope that will achieve success for me as a captain too," he said.

On Sourav Ganguly's provisional inclusion as the 16th player in the squad, Dravid said: "ICC's Disputes Resolution Commissioner is going to take a decision on that (Ganguly's six-match ban). If Sourav is cleared, well he has got tonnes of experience, he is a successful one-day player and it will be fantastic to have him in the side when and if he does come back depending on what decision is going to be taken. I don't want to make any more comments on this."

No extra pressure

Dravid also emphasised that captaincy would not put any additional pressure on his batting. "There is pressure every time you play for India. I mean it is going to be a good challenge and I have done it before so I don't see it as an additional burden. I have to obviously give time for my captaincy and there will be a time when I have to bat and I will have to forget the captaincy and concentrate on my batting," he said.

On the youngsters in the squad and on the likely team composition, Dravid said: "It is a good opportunity for the young guys to show us what they can do at this level. The kind of squad we have gives us the flexibility to have different kinds of combinations. I think we will have to see the conditions, the pitch and we will decide on things like five bowlers or four bowlers just a day before the game."

Camp concludes

Meanwhile, the cricket skills camp concluded here with a practice match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Coach Greg Chappell, who jointly addressed the media along with Dravid, expressed his satisfaction over the camp and the team selected for Sri Lanka.

Chappell also declared that all the selected players were fit. "All the players have been cleared as far as fitness goes. Ashish Nehra was probably the last one to get a clearance and he played the last two games and has come through it very well," Chappell said, adding that three Aussie coaches — himself, Bennett King (West Indies) and Tom Moody (Sri Lanka) — being at the same tournament was just a "coincidence."

"I know Bennett and Tom very well. We will be cordial no doubt but we will have our hands full," Chappell said.

Dhoni shines

M.S. Dhoni and J.P. Yadav struck a formidable alliance that powered India to a five-wicket victory over India `A' in a practice match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Tuesday.

Dhoni hit an unbeaten 123 (89b, 12x4, 3x6) and J.P. Yadav also made merry with an unbeaten 86 (82b, 3x4, 3x6) and the duo's 196-run partnership revived India from a precarious 103 for five and guided the team past India A's 293. India won in 45.5 overs.

Earlier India `A' scored 293 for seven in 50 overs with Suresh Raina (92, 114b, 8x4, 2x6), Venugopala Rao (55) and skipper Dinesh Mongia (53) scoring the bulk of the runs.

The total however proved inadequate as Dhoni and J.P. Yadav set a scorching pace later under the warm afternoon sun.

The chase stuttered initially as Balaji scalped Sehwag, while Ashish Nehra prised out V.V.S. Laxman and skipper Rahul Dravid. Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif failed to do a rescue act and succumbed to tame swipes against Agarkar.

Dhoni amassed 24 runs in a Venugopala Rao over with the sequence being 2-6-4-4-4-4. The six was a powerful blow that landed in the press box, the top most tier on the pavilion stand ! Yadav meanwhile kept the scoreboard ticking with some sensible batting besides indulging the odd big hit. The partnership was hard on all the bowlers and even Nehra came in for some stick in the end.Later, the players left for their homes as the Indian team is scheduled to leave for Sri Lanka from Chennai on July 23.

The scores: India `A' 293 for seven in 50 overs (S. Raina 92, Y. Venugopala Rao 55, Dinesh Mongia 53, Gambhir 32, Anil Kumble two for 49) lost to India 299 for five in 45.5 overs (M.S. Dhoni 123 n.o., J.P. Yadav 86 n.o., Yuvraj Singh 38, Agarkar two for 32, Nehra two for 72).

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