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Friday, 14 October 2011

Team India needs Harbhajan: Rahul Dravid

NEW DELHI: Off the field too, Rahul Dravid retains the patience of a saint. Adroitly juggling umpteen media commitments, he exudes the same unruffled calm which has characterized his batting. Excerpts from an exclusive interview:


You are enjoying a second wind. Is it getting difficult or easier to keep motivating yourself?

You have to keep setting personal standards. The fitness trainers and physiotherapists help us remain fit longer. I had a bit of luck too, and the matches in the West Indies restored the faith going into the England series. I don't set targets in terms of runs. You have to keep relooking at stages of your career and see your priorities.

Do you enjoy it as much?

I've always liked the buzz that comes with preparing for a Test. In the beginning everything is new and exciting, and now it's sort of challenging. It's not just about runs. Sometimes you successfully negotiate a good spell and think, 'Shucks, I was good. I enjoyed that.' The game still gives me goose bumps sometimes. I'm still extremely nervous when I walk out to bat. I think that's a good sign.

Going into the ODI series against England, everyone's talking about the lack of an express pacer. But even the spin cupboard seems bare...

Yes, there are not that many new spinners around in domestic cricket to choose from. It's because of the way the game is played in India. There's a lot more accent on pace.

Even at the top, match-winning performances from spinners are rare...

If you look at the top three or four guys, they need to develop and in time hopefully they'll perform well. It's a challenge for them. It's not easy to replace guys like Kumble. We have Amit Mishra, we have Pragyan Ojha. Harbhajan is still going strong and he's young.

Bhajji has been dropped...

Everyone goes through tough times. Harbhajan's done a terrific job so far. He tries hard and thrives on a challenge. You can't get 400 wickets by being ordinary, so there's no doubting his ability. He can bounce back against West Indies and then perform well in Australia, because we need him. It's Team India which needs Bhajji. Without him the team is poorer because when he bowls well, India are more competitive.

There's been talk about MS Dhoni's workload too. ..

Dhoni is doing a really good job. At the moment he is managing well, but he'll have to assess that workload from time to time. Choosing when to play and when to rest is something only he can answer. He's got to know his body and mind and take the decision.

Should India split the captaincy across formats?

I don't think we need it. Some teams like England have been forced to do it because they don't have many players who are both leadership material and can play across formats. We've been lucky.

You've played your last in India blues and are now endorsing Maxxport, a sportswear brand...

Yes, I've been associated with the house of SG for years and it's been satisfying.

The DRS plagued you in England. Are you relieved it's not mandatory now?

DRS is a work in progress. There are some aspects to DRS which don't work well. I think we have to keep reviewing these things, step back and not force it on anyone. As long as technology keeps improving, its use in sport is inevitable. But if it doesn't happen there's no point using it. You have to play it by ear.  TNN

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