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Last Updated:  Monday, 24 March, 2003, 15:48 GMT
Dravid slams Tendulkar critics
By Manak Gupta
BBC Hindi

Rahul Dravid has responded angrily to claims team-mate Sachin Tendulkar only performs in unimportant matches.

Sachin Tendulkar walks off after he was dismissed in the World Cup final
Tendulkar was the wicket the Australians prized above all others

Critics have questioned the mental resolve of Tendulkar, who was dismissed for four in India's 125-run defeat to Australia in Sunday's World Cup final.

The 29-year-old was named man of the tournament after hitting a record 673 runs in 11 games.

But he has been dogged thoughout his career by accusations he underperforms when India need him most.

However, vice-captain Dravid dismissed those views as "absolutely ridiculous".

"It's people nitpicking and trying to find faults with the greatest batsmen in the world," he told BBC Hindi. "I'm sick and tired of hearing these things."

"They should look at his record and respect him for what he does. I see that happening all the time with Sachin and I think he handles it brilliantly.

"He scored 673 runs and if somebody tells me the World Cup is not important then they should get their head checked."

Sourav Ganguly's decision to send Australia into bat backfired when Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden made an opening stand of 105 off 14 overs at the Wanderers.

Rahul Dravid
I don't think there was anything wrong with our tactics - we just didn't execute the plan right
Rahul Dravid
Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn continued the onslaught in a record 234-run third-wicket partnership.

But despite heavy criticism from the media, Dravid insisted his captain had made the correct decision.

"It was a good decision to field, the ball was seaming around and turning because of the damp," he said.

"We lost it in our first 20 overs with the bowling - we didn't create enough pressure.

"And once they got off to a great start, we always knew our backs were against the wall.

"But I don't think there was anything wrong with our tactics - we just didn't execute the plan right."

Dravid is confident India's young side will once more be challenging the Australians for their world crown in 2007 in the West Indies.

"I definitely think we won't have to wait another 20 years to get another good opportunity, looking at the side right now," he added.

"Eighty percent of this team will be there at the next World Cup, form and fitness willing."

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