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'I am playing at team's request'

December 25, 2008 16:57 IST

Rahul Dravid said on Thursday that he decided to play for Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy's quarter-final against Saurashtra on the request of the state side and not from a personal point of view. 

The batting great has come out of a pronounced run-slump in Tests with a century in the first innings in Mohali before coming here for the four-day match, which is commencing on Friday.

"I was requested by the boys to play in this match. I am not playing from a personal point of view. It's a important  game and it's good to be back playing for Karnataka," Dravid said after a practice session at the Brabourne Stadium.

"We have a young side. I don't know all of them very well, having not played with them for long. But hopefully we can put up a good performance," said the former India skipper, who had played two matches earlier for Karnataka in the league phase of the tournament.

Dravid said the prolonged break from the international cricket grind for the Indian players would see them taking part in domestic cricket which, he felt, would be a good preparation for the battles lying ahead.

"The break from international cricket after the cancellation of the Pakistan tour (in wake last month's terror strike in Mumbai) has given us an opportunity to play in domestic cricket though not all of us would be playing."

"The Duleep Trophy (that follows) would also be a good preparation for the season ahead," he said.

Dravid welcomed the BCCI's decision to play the knock out rounds of the national championship at neutral venues which he felt will give the curators the chance to prepare good tracks.

"The concept of neutral venues introduced by BCCI since last year is a good experiment which will ensure that matches at this stage are played on good wickets. Though it takes away some charm of playing at home, I hope it's given a fair trial."

He was also in favour of the Board's move to include the Plate Division finalists at this stage of the event from this season, a decision that has helped Bengal and Himachal Pradesh making it to the Elite Division knock out rounds from the lower division.

"The decision to have two Plate Division teams in the knock out rounds will provide those teams with an incentive other than fighting for the Plate Trophy. It will also make the players' pool bigger with the number of matches increasing," he said.

On Saurashtra youngster Cheteshwar Pujara's wish to pick his brains during the match, Dravid said he had heard a lot about the former's abilities as a batsman though he has not seen him enough.

"I played against him two years ago (at Rajkot) and have heard a lot about him. He has been scoring a lot of runs and I hope he continues to do so, but obviously not against us," he said.

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