India sweat over Dravid’s form ahead of Australia tour

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Less than three weeks before India’s high-profile Test series in Australia, concerns persist over the form of batting mainstay Rahul Dravid.

Since quitting the captaincy in September, the 34-year-old has struggled to recapture the kind of form that established him as one of the world’s top batsmen. While his place in the line-up for the four-Test tour starting on December 26 is not in doubt, the final Test against Pakistan beginning on Saturday (tomorrow) presents him with a final opportunity to find his touch before heading to Australia.

“It’s very important for the team that Rahul plays long innings in Australia,” former coach Anshuman Gaekwad said on Thursday. “He needs to stay to stabilise the entire innings to have the required effect. The role of the number three batsman is crucial for any team,” he added.

Dravid averages 64.72 in seven Tests in Australia and was the highest run-getter for the side during the 2003-04 tour with 619 runs at an astonishing average of 123.80. His double hundred helped India win the second Test at Adelaide and he also had two scores in the 90s among his three half centuries in a remarkable series that ended in a 1-1 draw.

However, Dravid has failed to deliver in his starts in the first two Tests against Pakistan. He was unfortunate to be given out for 50 in the second Test in Kolkata, where the two sides stacked up nearly 1,500 runs combined, but the manner of his dismissals in the first Test was so untypical of Dravid, renowned for his technical excellence.

Just 378 shy of joining the exclusive 10,000-run club in Test cricket, Dravid fell in the first innings playing across the line to debutant pacer Sohail Tanvir and was bowled by a quick ball from Shoaib Akhtar that sped through the gap between bat and pad.

“(But) he is a classy player, and is just one innings away from regaining form,” former captain Ajit Wadekar said on Thursday. “Hopefully that will be soon,” he added. Dravid gave up the captaincy after the England tour to focus on his batting, but looked out of sorts in the one-day series against Australia, scoring 51 in five completed innings and subsequently lost his place in the one-day side. India lead the three-Test series against Pakistan 1-0 after winning the opening Test by six wickets. The second match ended in a draw.
Source:Cricket News

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