Kolkata: Finding the perfect combination can be tricky and there’s no set formula, but India head coach Rahul Dravid says he and skipper Rohit Sharma are pretty clear about the team for the T20 World Cup in Australia in less than eight months.
The former captain, who took over from Ravi Shastri after leaving India’s group stage at last year’s T20 World Cup in the UAE, will face his first major challenge in Australia. Dravid said he and Rohit understand what the team combination should be for the mega event.
“I think we have a good idea between Rohit and myself and the selectors and management,” said Dravid after their 17-run win over the West Indies in the third T20I that secured a 3-0 clean sweep on Sunday.
“I don’t think there is a fixed formula for it. But we’re pretty clear about the balance and the combination (for the T20 World Cup)… We’re just structuring a little bit of the team around it and balancing the individual workloads as well.
“We have a pretty good idea of the kind of skills we’re looking for in Australia, with the kind of guys out there running. Not everything is set in stone, but we want to give everyone a fair chance to stake their claim for those spots,” he added.
The T20I series against the West Indies was India’s first in a full calendar leading up to the World Cup and they then take on Sri Lanka in four days in an identical three-game rubber.
In the absence of some of the regular Team India players, such as opener KL Rahul, and pacesetters Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, India gave opportunities to youngsters such as Ishan Kishan, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Avesh Khan to stake their claim in the World Cup roster.
With Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant given a 10-day bio-bubble rest, India also tried Shreyas Iyer, while Kishan doubled up as wicketkeeper in the third and final T20I. Dravid said the whole process was about getting the backups ready.
“In the times we live in, it’s never easy… I don’t think there’s a time frame where you can say that, okay, this is the team you want to do it with.
“You don’t want to throw yourself too wide. We also don’t want to limit ourselves to just 15 players. We want to give players opportunities, make sure that by the time we go to the World Cup, some of our guys have played at least 10-15-20 games,” explains Dravid.
“It gives Rohit a chance to play them, bowl them in positions he wants, but he also has to balance the fact that we need a few backups from people in case of an injury,” he added. ready. †
Kishan led off in all three games of the series, but the Jharkhand wicketkeeper batter failed to impress with just 71 runs at an average of 23.66.
In the final match, Maharashtra ‘run machine’ Ruturaj Gaikwad opened with Kishan as Rohit chose to hit at number 4 but the duo failed to make it big.
Dravid said the youngsters would not be judged on one run or one bad race.
“This is a difficult format. We ask them to play high risk cricket. We ask them to play shots all the time. And we don’t judge them on a few games. It’s not the way, it’s done.
“We try to give people as many consistent runs as possible. We try to give them opportunities to play and not judge them on the basis of game to game or one series.”
Struggling Kishan gets Dravid .’s support
Dravid gave full support to Kishan, the most expensive purchase of the IPL 2022 auction: “Ishan was picked for his potential, his performance. Yes, you can’t specify that many games. Sometimes it’s a combination, sometimes it’s injuries.”
“Never always give a player the same number of games, there can’t be a number written in stone, whether it’s seven or six games.”
“Whether it’s Ruturaj Gaikwad or Avesh Khan. We don’t judge them on one match. They are here because they perform and deserve to be here,” the former captain emphasized.
“We want to give the players confidence in the group in and around the squad and that they are not judged on one match. It is always a difficult balance. But in the larger group I am not worried about one-off series. happening,” Dravid added.
Venkatesh Iyer is making progress as an all-rounder
India has long been concerned about their sixth bowling option, especially after the back injury of their fast bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
Lacking an unsuitable Pandya, India has tried players like Venkatesh Iyer and Shardul Thakur and is the first to impress the head coach.
“I know he’s playing a different role (opener) for his IPL franchise, but we’re very clear what kind of role we see him filling in our situation… Obviously, our top three isn’t really a place because these guys have established themselves and are performing very well in the top three,” he said.
“So we challenged him, we gave him the role to bat in that position. Every time he’s gotten better, he’s gotten better. That’s very nice.”
Venkatesh scored 92 runs from three matches with a strike rate of 184.00 and also played the part of the sixth bowler to take two wickets at an average of 13.50.
In the final T20I, when Deepak Chahar limped from a hamstring injury in the third over, Venkatesh came in to take 2/23 in his 2.1 overs.
“The role of a sixth bowler is something you should always bowl. But in a situation like today, where we unfortunately lost Deepak, you have to bowl some critical overs,” said Dravid.
“That’s the role of a sixth bowler. If you play a good game and the captain doesn’t need you, he doesn’t need you.
“If he needs you, he will probably need you at a critical time. And I think he’s done a really good job for us, really good series he’s had,” he added.
100 days, a learning experience for ‘the Wall’
After starting his stint as India coach last year with a 3-0 sweep over New Zealand, it has been a rollercoaster ride for Dravid thus far.
Whether it’s their back-to-back Test and ODI series defeats in South Africa, the controversy surrounding Virat Kohli’s captaincy or the recent saga surrounding Wriddhiman Saha’s sacking from Test cricket, Dravid summed it all up by to say it was a “learning experience”.
“I’ve learned a lot. I’m not too worried about the results and just want the team to get better and move in the right direction,” said Dravid, who completed 100 days as a coach on February 17.
“South Africa was a reality check for us, especially in the one-day format. In Tests, while disappointing, things could have gone our way with a bit of luck.
“From my perspective it is very important to keep learning as a coach to keep improving. I keep learning every day… I don’t expect to make mistakes. I’m going to make mistakes,” he admitted.
“But I am learning, I will improve and get better. I hope the team will (also) want to do that… we have to keep improving. We are far from done with the final product,” he concludes.
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