Perhaps, it’s the ghost of the infamous 2004 declaration in Multan, but Rahul Dravid doesn’t enjoy being questioned about the timing of his declarations.
In 2004, skipper Dravid declared with Sachin Tendulkar batting on 194 and his team on 675 for 5 in the first innings. The same game where Virender Sehwag scored 309 from 375 balls!
On Monday, in the wake of a memorable draw against New Zealand, coach Dravid was asked it was wise to declare as ‘late’ as they did on the fourth day of the opening Test at the Green Park in Kanpur. India, after a scary stutter at the start, got to 234 for 7 before skipper Ajinkya Rahane waved his Wriddhiman Saha and Axar Patel in.
New Zealand were set a target of 284, and they finished the day on 165 for 9 in 98 overs. A phenomenal effort from the visitors given the conditions and the pressure their tailenders were under.
“No, I don’t think so, that’s not my reading of the game,” he shot back when asked about the timing of the declaration. “Till half an hour before we declared, we were under pressure, all three results were possible. Saha obviously showed a lot of courage and character to bat with the stiff neck that he had.
He continued unabated: “This wicket is really flat and it would have been different had both the edges been in play, but no, my reading of the game was not that at all. Even today, you walk into the ground, the opposition needs under three runs an over, and that’s not a lot of runs on the last day if a couple of batsmen get set. We timed it well. We came close today, we got it right. You forget that we were under pressure with the bat too, even 45 minutes before we declared.”
Sources at the stadium revealed that Dravid donated a sizeable cheque to the curator and his staff at the end of the game. Stating that he was happy with just how impressively the pitch held up. At the conference though, he didn’t seem too impressed.
“We all expected a bit more wear and tear on a day-five pitch,” he said. “It played low and slow but still, it wasn’t like India pitches usually are, it didn’t have that bite. Generally in India you can challenge both edges, the spinners certain can. But honestly, in this game, the outside edge was virtually ruled out, even till the last day none of the edges carried. It felt like the only way to get people out was either bowled or leg before wicket, which was probably true in the last session too.
“We did do a good job. We have played here before and wickets can be tough, but this is lower and slower than anything I have ever experienced here. Maybe it’s the winter, I don’t know. It just felt like if you wanted to block, you could, even against world-class spinners. That they turned this into an existing draw is a testament to them. They made a match out of this pitch, that’s amazing.”
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