“Half an hour before we declared, we were under pressure” – Rahul Dravid explains team’s batting strategy on Day 4 of Kanpur Test

India head coach Rahul Dravid did not agree with the assessment that the team’s slow batting on Day 4 in Kanpur, ahead of their declaration, proved to be costly.

New Zealand escaped with a draw on Day 5 in Kanpur. They lost their 9th wicket in the 90th over of their innings. However, the last-wicket pair of Rachin Ravindra (18* off 91 balls) and Ajaz Patel (2* off 23) batted out 8.4 overs to enable the Kiwis to escape with a draw.

Despite missing out on victory by the narrowest of margins, Dravid refused to believe that India erred by not being proactive in the overs ahead of the declaration. Speaking at the post-match conference, Dravid countered:

“That’s not my reading of the game. Half an hour before we declared, we were under pressure. All three results were possible. Wriddhiman Saha showed great courage and character to be batting with a stiff neck. (But) If we had lost our last three wickets quickly and they were chasing 240-450 with approximately 110 overs, then they are looking at 2.2 or 2.3 runs an over.”

Dravid opined that India timed their declaration appropriately, once they were sure that the danger period had passed. He further elaborated:

“We needed that partnership (between Saha and Axar Patel) we got. We lost Shreyas (Iyer) just before Tea and then we had that partnership. From 167 for 7 to get to 234 for 7 was absolutely necessary. As you saw, this wicket is really flat. If it was turning square and bouncing, that would have been a different situation.”

Saha (61*) and Axar (28*) featured in an unbroken eight-wicket stand of 67 before Team India declared their innings and set New Zealand a target of 284.

“Phenomenal achievement” – Rahul Dravid extols Ravichandran Ashwin for going past Harbhajan Singh

Although India could not claim victory in Kanpur, there was a personal milestone to celebrate as Ravichandran Ashwin went past Harbhajan Singh’s tall of 417 Test wickets.

Praising the veteran off-spinner for his achievement, Dravid commented:

“Harbhajan Singh was a really fine bowler, someone I played a lot of cricket with. What Ashwin’s done to go past him in just 80 Tests is a phenomenal achievement. Ashwin has been an absolute match-winner for India. Even in this Test, the way he pulled us back on that third morning with that spell of 11 overs was phenomenal. Today, just to keep us alive in the game, constantly be threatening on wickets like this, is a tribute to his skill and ability.”

Adding that Ashwin is someone who never stops learning, Dravid further said:

“He has just evolved, he keeps growing and is one of those guys who keeps thinking about the game. That is why he has got where he has. It is a pleasure to work with him and I’m really happy for him.”

Ashwin became the third-highest wicket-taker in India’s Test history when he bowled New Zealand opener Tom Latham for 52.

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