India's Dravid backs under-fire captain Ganguly
by AFP

Ground:Nehru Stadium, Kochi, Andhra Cricket Association-Visakhapatnam District Cricket Association Stadium, Visakhapatnam
Scorecard:India v Pakistan
Player:RS Dravid, V Sehwag, Shahid Afridi, Younis Khan
Event:Pakistan in India 2004/05

DateLine: 4th April 2005


Indian captain Sourav Ganguly's failure as a batsman is not putting extra pressure on the team during the one-day series against arch-rivals Pakistan, vice-captain Rahul Dravid insisted.


Ganguly managed just 48 runs in five Test innings against Pakistan and was dimissed for a first-ball duck in the opening one-day international at Cochin on Saturday which India won by 87 runs.


"There is no pressure because of that and we are sure Sourav will come up with a good performance sooner or later," Dravid said ahead of the second one-dayer in this coastal town on Tuesday.


"Each player in the team has a role to play and there are times when some are out of form. The challenge is to carry people who are out of form and still manage the right results."


India won at Cochin mainly due to centuries from Virender Sehwag and Dravid and a five-wicket haul by part-time spinner Sachin Tendulkar.


Dravid lauded Sehwag for his tremendous run of form which has seen the opener hit a 95-ball 108 at Cochin after amassing 544 runs at an average of 90.66 in a preceding three-Test series.


"Veeru (Sehwag) is in terrific form but we do not depend only on him," said Dravid, who added 201 runs for the third wicket with Sehwag in the last match.


"Others have stood the team in good stead in the past and will do so in the future.


"India and Pakistan are evenly matched sides and we have great respect for our rivals. We are aware they will bounce back hard."


Dravid, one of the world's leading batsmen, rubbished suggestions the balance of the one-day series had shifted in India's favour after the Cochin win.


"I do not believe in the tag of underdogs or favourites," he said. "That is one thing this game has taught me over the years."


Pakistan vice-captain Younis Khan, who missed Saturday's match due to fever, said he was hopeful of taking the field on Tuesday.


"I practised at the nets today and hope to be fit to play. But a final decision will be taken just before the match," said Younis, whose 267 and 84 not out helped Pakistan clinch a series-levelling win in the third Test at Bangalore last week.


Younis said it was too early to predict the outcome of the six-match one-day contest.


"One match does not decide the fate of the series," the Pakistan vice-captain said.


"Even if we lose tomorrow, there would still be a lot left to play for."


Younis hinted that hard-hitting all-rounder Shahid Afridi may be moved back up to the top of the batting order after coming at eight in Cochin.


"Afridi might open but we are not planning any major changes in the side," he said, adding that the presence of many all-rounders in the Pakistan team would give the team the edge over their rivals.


Dravid said the hot weather and stifling humidity in Cochin and Visakhapatnam was a challenge for both teams.


"It is tough playing at this time of the year," he said. "It is a question of how we cope with the heat and humidity and how we manage time both on and off the field to recover in the few days we have."


The remaining matches will be played in Jamshedpur (April 9), Ahmedabad (April 12), Kanpur (April 15) and New Delhi (April 17).


Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is due to attend the New Delhi game after accepting a personal invitation from Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

(Article: Copyright © 2005 AFP)