Former captain Rahul Dravid heaped praise on Ravichandran Ashwin for his century in India’s first innings in the first cricket Test against the West Indies today and said a lower order batsman making handy contribution with the bat was a good sign for the country’s cricket.

Ashwin slammed his second Test ton as a dominant India extended their lead to a mammoth 219 runs over the West Indies on day three of the first Test in Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell series in Kolkata on Friday.

“Over the last few years definitely you know you speak a lot about the contribution lower order batsman can make and how critical that can be in the course of the Test match and how important they can be,” Dravid said.

“Ashwin’s always been someone who enjoys batting. He is someone who is always going to be a good player. It’s a good sign for Indian cricket.”

Talking about other tailenders who can bat a bit, Dravid said, “I know Bhuvneshwar Kumar can bat quite well, Sourav (Ganguly) seems to say Mohammed Shami can hit a long ball as well. So you do have players lower on the order who can bat.

“They give the Indian team a lot more options as well. Going abroad we can have the courage and confidence to play five bowlers and win Test matches. We haven’t had that for a long time.”

Dravid said lower-order batsmen need to be given adequate batting practice to hone their batting skills.

“You need to ensure that they get right practice. A of lower order batsmen don’t get enough batting practice, what they get is some of the scraps. The tailenders get the net bowlers and those do not have quality. You expect them to try and perform in the middle of a Test match, that’s not going to happen,” he said.

He, however, said that there has been “some conscious effort” during the last few series to “ensure at least the tailenders get quality batting practice so that they can make contributions”.

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