It's hard to tell a player he isn't playing: Dravid

It's hard to tell a player he isn't playing: Rahul Dravid

For Dravid, any decision on playing XI would be based on conditions and the opposition's preferred combination rather than 'getting carried away'

Dravid said that it's good if players are disappointed at not being picked as it testifies that they care and have the hunger to be in the middle of action. Credit: IANS Photo

Rahul Dravid refused to dismiss South Africa’s ailing bowling attack. Instead, he said his bowling unit held the edge ahead while exhorting the Indian batsmen to prove their credentials in demanding conditions ahead of the opening Test at the SuperSport Park in Centurion from Sunday.

Picking up wickets in South Africa has hardly been a concern for India’s bowlers for the conditions have favoured the spinners and the pacers alike, but their batting has rarely looked commanding. 

“This is a great challenge for the batting group, or as a batter,” said the former India skipper. “This is a great opportunity for anyone - in form or out of form. Batters look forward to scoring in these conditions because these define your career. These sort of series are not won by stand-out individual performances, these are won by teams as a whole so every contribution matters.” 

Perhaps these words will inspire the likes of Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, who have all been in dismal form over the last two years. But with Kohli, one always believes runs are around the corner, and with Pujara there’s comfort in the knowledge that he could play out a session and some if he gets stuck into it. 

Also Read | India look to break South Africa duck

With Rahane, it has looked impossible so there’s every reason to believe either Shreyas Iyer or Hanuma Vihari will play ahead of him. 

“The guys have been very good about it,” said Dravid when asked how difficult it is to drop players. “I think most players are professional. Sometimes you just have to have these difficult conversations with players, but it is hard to tell a player that he’s not going to play the next game. That said, they are all seniors in their state sides and senior core and so on and they have had to make these calls themselves. They understand.”

Speaking about the conditions, Dravid, who has seen his fair share of South Africa as a batsman said: “These are some alien conditions,” he offered. “It takes some getting used to. The ball seams and has some steep bounce and occasionally tennis-ball like bounce, and it quickens up on days three and four and starts playing up and down on the fifth day. It’s not something we’re used to, but we can adapt and put up a fight.”

Also Read | Boxing Day Test: Very clear on playing XI, says Dravid

The last time India were in the Rainbow Nation, they were up against the likes of Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada with Lungi Ngidi making his debut. This time around, they have Rabada, Ngidi and a relatively-inexperienced Duanne Oliver.

They will still pose a threat in conditions favourable to them, but it’s hardly the stuff of nightmares. 

“I don’t think this is a casual bowling attack,” said the head coach on Saturday. “It’s a very good attack. Our attack is more experienced than theirs, and that’s not something that has happened before, but we still have to put up good scores to give our bowlers something to defend. We can’t be complacent. We have a great attack and we can take heart from that.” 

“We back ourselves to pick up 20 wickets on in these conditions,” he added.

Watch the latest DH Videos here:

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox