Rahul Dravid talks fitness and intensity after the loss that put him in a tight spot: The Tribune India



Tribune News Service

Birmingham, July 6

Facing probing questions from reporters after India failed to defend their 377-run aggregate lead in the Birmingham Test, head coach Rahul Dravid said it was disappointing to lose three consecutive Test matches with modest fourth-innings bowling.

Before Tuesday’s loss to England, India had lost two consecutive Test matches in South Africa in January, failing to defend 239 in Johannesburg and 211 in Cape Town. In the first Test of the tour of South Africa, India set the home team a target of 305 and won.

“It was disappointing for us,” Dravid said. “I mean, we’ve had a few opportunities in South Africa and here. I just think it’s something we have to look at, something we probably have to work on.”

We’ve been very good at that over the last few years, in terms of taking wickets and winning those Test matches. But, yes, we haven’t been able to do that in the last few months. It was disappointing for us. I mean, we had a few opportunities both in South Africa and here. I just think it’s something we need to look at. —Rahul Dravid, coach of India

“We’ve been very good at that over the last few years, in terms of taking wickets and winning those Test matches,” Dravid added. “But, yes, we haven’t been able to do that in the last few months. It could be different factors… Maybe we just need to maintain that intensity, maintain that level of fitness or maintain that level of performance through the Test match.”

In the three defeats, India went into attacks with heavy pace, picking combinations between Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur and Umesh Yadav. They used only one spinner in these Tests, Ravichandran Ashwin in South Africa and Ravindra Jadeja here in Birmingham.

In retrospect, after Thakur’s modest comeback in the Birmingham Test and listless bowling in the fourth innings, analysts wondered whether Ashwin, with his variation, would have been more useful in Birmingham.

Dravid said India opted for Thakur over Ashwin because they thought the wicket would help the bowlers speed up the game. “It is always not easy to leave out someone like Ashwin in a Test match,” Dravid said. “But having said that, when we looked at the wicket on the first day, it had pretty even grass. We felt there was enough in it for the fast bowlers.”

“It’s easy to look back on day five and say it would have been nice to have another spinner in the fourth innings, but again it didn’t turn around to warrant that,” he added.

Poor hitting

Dravid said the batsman’s failure in the second innings, which saw the top order fail again before the team lost the last seven wickets in 92 runs, hurt the team the most. He said it happened in South Africa as well.

“We didn’t even bat in the second innings,” Dravid said. “If you look at all the third innings of these two overseas Tests and this one, the batting was also probably not up to scratch. In both areas we kind of started the Test matches well but we didn’t manage to finish well. Yes, we need to be better at that and certainly we have to improve.”

“They played well for five days. We had our chances, we played well the first three days. We couldn’t sustain it,” he added. “That’s why Test cricket is tough. And that’s why Test cricket means you We have to be able to continue to maintain those performances over five days. We didn’t do that and they did it better than us and they deserved to win this Test match .”

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