Head coach Rahul Dravid defended India's decision to bowl first in the World Test Championship Final against Australia, saying the call was dictated by overcast conditions and grass on the pitch.
In pursuit of a record 444, India were bowled out for 234 in the first session of the fifth day itself to lose their second WTC Final in a row by a massive margin of 209 runs.
Dravid was posed some tough questions by Sourav Ganguly, who commentated during the WTC Final.
Ganguly asked his former teammate Dravid the logic behind the reason to bowl first and he responded by saying that the decision was not about "tackling pressure".
"We decided to bowl first in the Test match because the conditions were overcast and there was quite a lot of grass on the pitch," Dravid said.
"So, we thought that it would get easier to bat on later in the pitch and that was the same case here also. Most teams in recent times have opted to field first in England," Dravid said.
"We thought that it was a great decision when Aussies were at 70/3 and then we leaked a lot of runs in the next two sessions. Even if we would have gotten them out by 300, we would have been in the game. We could have had a chance in the fourth innings," the India head coach added.
Dravid said the team was confident of chasing down a 300-plus target in the fourth innings.
"We had hoped that however behind we were, we could've shown more fight but we knew we needed exceptional performances. It was not a 469-run wicket. We gave away a lot of runs -- bowling was disappointing. We played some poor shots yesterday," Dravid said.
'We're getting close"
Dravid was further asked about the lack of an ICC trophy that has eluded the team for 10 years now as the Champions Trophy in 2013 remains India's last victory in a global event.
"You have a good point that we haven't won a major ICC trophy since 2013. We are getting close. We are getting to the semifinals, we are getting to finals, but I don't think we played our best game in the last five days. We will be going through the data, the numbers, and stats...we will look back and see."
"We have been at our best, in the T20 World Cup but we are getting close," said Dravid.
Shifting the debate on the failure of the famed top-order, Ganguly asked Dravid about their lack of success in crucial matches, which has let India down regularly in the recent times.
"Our top five are all very experienced. These same players have won in Australia, in England. This is not up to their high standards. Some of the wickets have been quite challenging. This was a good pitch I'll admit. But some of the other places it's been tough.
"I will say that there have been better conditions at times when we played in South Africa or others. Even in India pitches have been tough. Taking this into account, averages have dropped across the board, not just for us.
"Every match is important and you need to win every match. Average is low for every player across teams. But as you said, you (Ganguly) are correct. If we give runs to our bowlers, it's a plus point. Harbhajan felt good when we piled up runs," he said.
Barring Cheteshwar Pujara who was playing county in England, India literally had zero preparation as the players flew straight after the IPL 2023.
Asked about the preparation, Dravid said, "The schedules are so tight and you need to be better prepared due to the packed schedule.
"No complaints, I wanna congratulate Australia for the cricket they have played. No excuses, no complaints, but they were the better side on this day.
Fake confidence: Bhajji
Questioning India's tactics in producing rank turners at home, former India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh said it gave them "fake confidence".
"By winning a match in two-and-a-half days while playing on those bad wickets, where the ball turns from day one, you cannot give yourself fake confidence.
"You have to get used to it, you have to slog it out for five days. You will be better prepared then. Indian fast bowlers don't bowl in India only. Your spinners come into play from the very first over itself," said the former of-spinner.
"I think nobody wants wickets to turn from the first ball and turn square. As you get to the back end of it, everyone wants to have turns. When you play in conditions like this, they can go variably. I agree that some wickets in India were difficult," Dravid concluded.
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