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Dravid showers encomiums on team

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CUP OF JOY OVERFLOWS: Rahul Dravid with the trophy after India clinched the series. The Indian captain was also declared man of the match and man of the series. Photo: AP
CUP OF JOY OVERFLOWS: Rahul Dravid with the trophy after India clinched the series. The Indian captain was also declared man of the match and man of the series. Photo: AP

Special Correspondent

Commends the "resilience of the guys to win at the end of a seven-week tour"

Kingston: Rahul Dravid's well deserved reputation for equanimity extends beyond his monk-like batting. After becoming the first Indian captain to win a series in the Caribbean for 35 years, a series of note outside the sub-continent in 20 years, and a Test in Jamaica, Dravid's feet were planted on terra firma.

"I'm really, really happy for the team," said the man whose brace of top-drawer fifties in a low scoring match split the sides. "It's nice that the hard work we've put in we came very close to winning earlier in this series came through on a difficult wicket.

"We've played the better cricket we came within a wicket at Antigua, and had we got 90 overs at St. Lucia, we would have won. I'm proud of the boys for what they achieved when I look around a dressing room I see so many happy faces. Sometimes on long tours, we've needed support from the coaching staff. This time we had it."

Saluting the seamers

Dravid picked seamers Munaf Patel and Sreesanth for special praise. "I'll say that in the ten years since 1996 when I saw Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad bowl consistently well through a series I've seen some good spells but not through an entire series this is the first time two seamers have done it. Despite being young and inexperienced, Munaf and Sreesanth gave us a consistent seam attack."

On his own excellent performance that saw him win the man of the series award, the 33-year-old said, "It was a good series personally. But, that wasn't as important as winning outside the sub-continent that gives the team a different kind of happiness. A lot of the team has played abroad and not won too much. So, it's a great feeling for us.

"Everyone contributed at various stages. Wasim's (Jaffer) double at Antigua to keep us in the game, Laxman's hundred to save one, Viru (Sehwag) nearly winning one, Kaif's first century, then our seamers, our spinners were brilliant. I've seen improvement in a lot of areas. We are obviously still not the finished product. Our young batsmen will learn a lot from this they don't play in similar conditions at home."

Lot of luck

What was the secret of playing on the Sabina Park track? "I must admit these couple are some of the best I've played. They are probably fresh in my mind. You probably needed to have a lot of luck to play on this wicket. The key was to get fully forward or fully back. Play as late as possible, play with soft hands. You've got to trust yourself, trust your defence, and try bat a period of time."

Dravid commended the "resilience of the guys to win at the end of a seven-week tour". How did he look back at past Caribbean tours revenge for what happened at Barbados in 1997 when India collapsed for 81 chasing 120? "I don't look at it as revenge. It was disappointing to lose in Barbados. It hurt that the next two were washed out, and that didn't give us a chance of fighting back.

"This is my third, and probably last tour I don't know when we come here next so it's nice to have won after 35 years."

What does the historic moment mean for Indian cricket? "It's good for Indian cricket," said Dravid. "Unfortunately, there is a lot of pessimism and negativity in Indian cricket. The players get criticised a lot, both fairly and unfairly, so, it's good for the boys. Sometimes you don't know the effort that goes into playing international cricket."

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