Kumble, Kirsten backs Dravid

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Vadodara, Sep 27 (UNI) With uncertainty looming large over his future, middle order batsman Rahul Dravid finally returned with some runs during the Irani Trophy which concluded today, with the backing of both India captain Anil Kumble and coach Gary Kirsten.

The former captain managed to earn 46 runs in the first innings and a more convincing 69 in the second essay against Delhi in the just-concluded Irani Trophy here.

Though the under-pressure batsman was not fully convinced with his performance, but Kirsten reckons that this tournament has gave Dravid his goal ahead of the Test series against Australia.

''I think it turned out to be a good outing for him,'' Kirsten asserted. ''He achieved what he had come for.'' ''He is a key player for us and has been successful for years. I do not look at a particular game, but performance over 6-7 months.

If someone has been in form for that period, it does not matter if he does well or not in a game.

''He knows now we face Australia, the world number one team and it should give boost his confidence,'' Kirsten said.

Elated over Dravid's perseverance, India skipper said, ''Dravid once again showed how to play in adverse conditions.'' ''He is a class act. In this kind of situation, you have to bat long and grind the bowlers. He knows that and he did a great job.

It obviously feels good to have some runs behind him before the series against Australia,'' Kumble quipped.

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