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Dravid is not having a very happy time

Rahul Dravid

Sourav Ganguly is suffering the fate of all those captains who are caught up in a spate of ill fortune. Everything he does seems to invite criticism. Be it the handling of his own men or his position in the batting order, it looks like the Prince of Kolkata must bear the cross all the time.

On the opening day of the second Test, it was his introduction of spinners within the first 70 minutes of the morning that found him at the receiving end. Ravi Shastri, who is in South Africa as a commentator, described it as `Christmas time' for the South African batsmen. Former South African swing bowler Fanie de Villiers was also bemused and struggled to find a logical explanation before settling for "you are ****ed up if you win the toss and ask the opposition to take first strike and don't get them all out on the first day!" Shastri, meanwhile went on to add that, he thought 50 overs by spinners on the first day on a green pitch, with the overhead cloud cover, was disastrous from the Indian point of view.

But Ganguly's move was indirectly backed by South African opener and centurion Herschelle Gibbs who explained that at the end of the first day's play that the ball wasn't really coming on to the bat because of the dampness in the pitch. He also added that there was also not much pace and lateral movement in the wicket. Ganguly probably decided to bowl his spinners with this in mind as he felt the batsmen would be made to grope for the ball.

With Ganguly letting everybody know that he was keen to open the innings, Rahul Dravid and Venkat Sai Laxman suddenly became the fall guys. Laxman could be excused as he has made it known to the selectors, in no uncertain terms, that he was not interested in opening the innings ever again.

Meanwhile, Dravid, contrary to his public image of a guy willing to do at anything that his captain and coach want him to, hates being asked to open. If you remember, in the Harare Test in Zimbabwe in June, it was Hemang Badani who finally had to open in his first Test after a few big names couldn't bring themselves to embrace the idea of facing the likes of Andy Blignaut operating with the new ball!

Rahul Dravid

Dravid's position becomes trickier if you remember he is also the vice-captain of the side. Shastri thought this was the area where Dravid should have been seen shouldering more responsibility. "He is very quiet on the field and sometimes you need the vice-captain to come up with useful advice to the captain. A captain, under stress, could have his thinking cap off."

Dravid continued to be haunted by fresh woes on the field too as he dropped a dolly, offered by Mark Boucher off Harbhajan's bowling, in the slips on the second day. That was before Shaun Pollock bowled him for two when he came out in his preferred position of India No.3 in the Indian first innings...

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Should Dravid open in Test matches?
Can't say

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Date-stamped : 09 Nov2001 - 14:40