Kumble's absence put paid to India's victory ambitions: Dravid

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Chittagong, May 22 (UNI) Team India skipper Rahul Dravid today attributed the absence of veteran spinner Anil Kumble as one of the prime reasons for not being able to enforce a win against Bangladesh in the first Test here.

''It (Kumble's absence) was a blow for us in this sort of conditions. but he should be alright. It is just a fever,'' Dravid told mediapersons after the drawn Test.

Kumble was down with flu since last morning, and could not take the field for the the last two days of the Test.

India were firmly in the drivers' seat at tea on the fourth day, with Banlgadesh tottering on 149 for 8, but a 77-run ninth wicket stand between Mashrafee Mortaza and Shahadat Hossain put paid to India's hopes.

Dravid said he had made the sporting declaration when India were at 100 for 6 in the second innings hoping that the hosts would play positively and try to chase the target of 250 in 43 overs.

''We had to give them a bit of target. We had hoped they would play positively and play for the target. We had hoped to take some early wickets and then anything could have happened and that was the thought process,'' Dravid said.

''But after the first wicket they played sensibly and there was not much swing for us in the second innings,'' he added.

Dravid did not agree to his Bangladesh counterpart Habibul Bashar's claim that the hosts finished the game with a psychological advantage.

''I don't think so. They were struggling at one stage and we were trying to set up a game at that stage.

If they think they have psychological edge good luck to them. I am not here to win any psychological battle.

It's going to start 0-0 in the next game,'' the Indian skipper said tersely.

''I can't think of any stage when we were doing the chase. First day we ended on 295 for three, and next day we went out looking for runs knowing that we have only 20 overs and that again was a strategy. I can't think of time when we were under any sort of pressure at all.'' Dravid said after finishing the first day at 295 for 3, the Indians were in a position to control the Test, but the Mortaza-Hossain pair put paid on the visitors' plans.

''It was good to see after winning a good toss, you bat well and score runs at quick rate at that stage we were definitely in the driver's seat. After that it was a stop-start game and there was not enough cricket for us to force a result.'' Dravid also praised his young pacers R P Singh and VRV Singh, saying, ''Conditions were not exactly suitable for them to bowl fast. RP ran in and bowled with a lot enthusiasm. He has improved a lot than we had seen him in the past.'' It is a matter of playing a lot of overs for guys like VRV and RP and it is critical for them,'' he said.

He also praised Banlgadesh pace spearhead Mortaza.

''Bangladesh is lucky to have such a cricketer. He is a very good trier with the ball and his contribution down the order with the bat is also important for Bangladesh. He did well in the World Cup and this match especially. He is developing as a genuine all-rounder and there are not many around at the moment, especially fast bowing all-rounders,'' Dravid said.


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