India’s head coach, Rahul Dravid, has defended his decision to experiment with team combinations in the two one-day internationals played thus far on the Caribbean tour. Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma did not play in the second One-Day International, which West Indies won handily by six wickets at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown to tie the three-match series at 1-1.
The senior pair had even gone down the order in the first ODI, which India won despite prolonging the run-chase further than they would have liked. Dravid, on the other hand, is unconcerned about the series’ outcomes and believes that providing some of the players game time is more important than the outcome of the match or series. This is being done with the team’s long-term goal of success in upcoming events such as the Asia Cup and the World Cup in mind.
“This (series) was our last chance to try out some of our players,” Dravid said after India was defeated on Saturday. “At the NCA, we have a few players who are injured.” With less than a month till the Asia Cup, we’re running out of time in a variety of ways. We’re hoping that some of them will be able to compete in the Asia Cup and World Cup. We can’t afford to take those chances. We need to try out other players and give them some chances so that they have some playing time behind them in the worst-case situation.
“It gives us some time to make player decisions.” We just felt that playing Virat and Rohit in a series like this, with only two or three matches left before the Asia Cup, would not have provided us with many solutions. We wanted to give the other boys an opportunity because of the injuries at the NCA and the uncertainty around them. So that they can play if necessary.”
So far, Ishan Kishan has started the batting alongside Shubman Gill in both games. In fact, the hard-hitting left-hander has been the only visitor batsman to score successive half-centuries in one-dayers. The experiments have also proceeded in the middle order. Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya batted at Nos. 3 and 4, respectively, in the first game, but Sanju Samson and Axar Patel batted at those positions in the second. Even though the series is on the line as the third ODI approaches, Dravid assures that the focus will be on the experimentation rather than the outcome.
“We will always consider the big picture.” At this point in the cycle, with the Asia Cup and World Cup on the horizon, we must consider the greater picture, despite our injuries. We can’t look at each and every game and series. If we do that, I believe we will make a mistake.”
Even if the likes of Gill and Hardik Pandya have failed to score in what Dravid sees as difficult batting circumstances, reservations about Suryakumar Yadav’s abilities in 50-over cricket remain. The No. 1 ranked T20 hitter with scores of 19 and 24, extending his ODI career’s subpar record of only 23.80 throughout 25 games.
“There is no doubt that Surya is a fantastic player. He has demonstrated this. T20 cricket, domestic cricket, and white-ball cricket, in particular. He has had some outstanding performances. He’d be the first to acknowledge that his ODI numbers haven’t been up to expectations or the standards he’s set in T20. He’s presumably also studying ODIs. Before making his India debut, he played a lot of competitive T20 cricket in the IPL. He hasn’t played as much competitive one-day cricket because there isn’t an IPL for one-dayers.
“He’s also learning his game and how to bat in the middle overs.” He is gifted, and we want to provide him with as many possibilities as possible. It is now entirely up to him to seize and capitalize on these possibilities. We offer folks as many chances as we possibly can in our situation.”
He stated how Kishan has taken advantage of the several opportunities that have come his way in ODIs. Kishan, who has never had a continuous run in the Indian team, has a 44.07 average in 16 One-Day Internationals, including a double century and five fifties.
“Ishan has done exceptionally well; this is his third fifty in a row, including the Test match.” He seizes chances as they present themselves. That is all we want of young players. We want to provide them as many opportunities as possible. We can’t always give everyone a chance. There are many other talented men. We make every effort.
“To give people a chance, Virat and Rohit sat out today.” In instances like that, we may have to take those risks and chances. If we’re going to build for huge tournaments and events, we need to construct certain players and obtain some solutions for specific positions, especially given our current circumstances.”