India’s head coach Rahul Dravid had no hesitation in admitting that the ODI squad lacked balance with the likes of Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja unavailable to execute their all-round skills at numbers six and seven respectively. India lost the three-match ODI series 0-3 and Dravid answered a range of questions covering the poor show in middle-overs both in batting and bowling, KL Rahul’s nascent captaincy career and how Venkatesh Iyer is not being thought of as a top-order batter.
“Yeah, we understand the template. Obviously, a large part of the template is also dependent on the balance of your squad,” Dravid replied when asked if the Indian team needs to revisit its template in 50-over cricket.
“I think if you are a little bit honest, some of the guys who help us balance the the squad out and give us those all-round options at Nos 6, 7 and 8 are probably not here, and available for selection,” Dravid said, clearly talking about the absence of Pandya, who is trying to get his bowling fitness back and Jadeja, who is recuperating from a knee injury.
“Hopefully, when they (Hardik and Jadeja) come back, it will give us lot more depth, it allows us then to probably play in a slightly different style,” Dravid made it clear as to what he missed in the series.
‘KL Rahul did a decent job but captaincy is about execution of skills by your players’
Dravid’s assessment of his namesake’s leadership skills was pretty lavish as he wanted people to factor in that he could only do as much with the kind of squad he had at his disposal.
“I thought he did a good job. Not easy to be on wrong side of the result. He is just starting out as captain,” he said.”…..and he will learn and a large part of captaincy is execution of skills by your players and quality of side you have got. We were a little bit short on the ODI side of things and I thought he did a very decent job, someone who is growing and will constantly be improving and get better as a captain.” Better batting required in middle-overs.
‘Trying to develop Venkatesh but eye is still on Hardik return’
Dravid was clear about one thing and that’s Vekatesh Iyer will have to fit himself in the middle-order if he wants to play white ball cricket for India.
Venkatesh, who made a stunning entry into national side on the basis of half an IPL and that too opening the innings for KKR, the Indian top-order is all but set, indicated head coach.
“Idea is to develop people like Venkatesh Iyer as sixth bowling option. Whether its Venkatesh or whether its Hardik when he potentially comes back and we have got option of someone like a Jadeja, who can potentially bat at No 6 in certain times when he is back, that will give us a lot more options,” Dravid hinted.
He made it clear that Venkatesh has been communicated his role in the team.
“It can happen if you are sixth bowler in a team, you are not required to bowl. We have been clear with him that in our team with number of options we have, he has batted at the top of the order for KKR, in our team we are looking at No 6, someone who can be that sixth bowling option.
“…and that was the kind of role we had for him over here, we have quite a few options at the top of the order and when someone like Rohit comes back, there aren’t too many spots open in 1, 2 or 3.”
‘We will know core but can’t set time-frame’
For Dravid, the South Africa tour is an “eye-opener” but he believes that the more ODIs that they play in the run-up to the 2023 World Cup, the better idea they will have about both combination and approach.
“Don’t think there is exact date or time frame and a large part of it evolves, we already have a certain amount of clarity at where we are at.” “At some point of time, we will already know, that we will have a fair idea of what kind of roles we already expect from people, and large part of that has already been communicated to them,” he said.
“A broad outline and a broad template is already in place and as you get closer and closer you start fine-tuning that and hard to put a date to that,” Dravid concluded.
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