Dravid hints at 'surprise' selection for first Test
May 17, 2007 - 3:33:12 PM

Chittagong, May 17 - India captain Rahul Dravid said Thursday that there would be some 'surprise element' in the team that will play against Bangladesh in the first Test starting here Friday.

'We will announce the final XI tomorrow morning. We would like to keep a little bit of surprise [element] as well,' he told reporters at the Bir Shrestha Shahid Ruhul Amin Stadium.

But Dravid made it clear that it was not an easy task to pick an XI and that all eight batsmen in the 15-man squad would naturally not get a chance to play.

Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman, who were not in the One-day International team, have bolstered the side.

'It is not easy to drop anyone but sometimes you have to do it. You know this time we have to do that definitely,' he said.

'Sometimes, we got to take decisions depending on what you think is the best combination for this condition and what gives you the best chance to win the match. We cannot obviously play all eight batsmen.'

Dravid's selection problems would have increased had Virender Sehwag been in the squad. Sehwag was in the ODI squad, but was dropped for the two-match Test series.

India have played three Tests against Bangladesh and have won all.

Dravid hinted at picking five bowlers for the match that will be played on a pitch that is shorn of grass.

'We are considering all the options. We do have the option of playing five bowlers in this condition considering the weather, considering the wicket and considering what we are trying to achieve from this game,' he reasoned.

With the pitch promising to assist slow bowlers, India would rely heavily on leg-spinner Anil Kumble's vast experience.

'On any condition Anil is an important part of our attack. He played a huge role for the Indian team over the last decade and the half. So, I do not see any difference in this series as well,' averred Dravid.

'It looks pretty good wicket. I think it should hold together for the first two and half-three days. It might break up as the game goes on, may be on the fourth and fifth day.'

Dravid, who will be playing his 108th Test, also pointed at India's vastly experienced players as compared to their Bangladeshi counterparts.

'But the experience only counts if you perform on the day. We all are going to start the game on zero-zero. You can have all the wealth of experience you want but if you do not perform on the given day or given match, it really counts for nothing,' he said rather philosophically.

'So, apart from the experience we also have to put the right performances, do our basics well and do what is important to win Test match. We really got to put things in place to win the Test match. We have to go with the methodical manner and do our basics right.'

Dravid, 34, also pointed out the weather factor as it was hot and humid Thursday.

'The heat is going to be a factor, but it is the same for both teams,' he said.

Asked if he had any special plans for the talented Mohammad Ashraful, Bangladesh's best batsman, Dravid said the strategy was for the entire Bangladesh team.

'We do not focus on one or two players. We made plans for all the batsmen because all of them can perform well,' he said.

'Ashraful is obviously a talented player and he played superbly against us in the last series [in 2004]. So hopefully this time we do not let him play that many runs in the series.'

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