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‘We can’t win either way….whatever we do people are going to say that’: Rahul Dravid on continuous changes in playing XI ahead of T20 World Cup

The India head coach reassured that the team has been confident in their selection approach ahead of the T20 World Cup.

(From left) Indian skipper Rohit Sharma, coach Rahul Dravid, batting coach Vikram Rathour, and vice-captain Jasprit Bumrah. (FILE)

Since the last T20 World Cup, India have played a total of 29 players in the format to get to their squad announcement for the next one in Australia. In certain positions, the changes have been as many as in double digits. Such as the opening slots. India tried a total of 10 openers before making it official that they would continue with the same combination of KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma for the World Cup.

While one might argue that constant shuffling in the playing eleven may lead to players not feeling confident about their place in the lineup, India head coach Rahul Dravid has said the communication within the team has been very good to avoid the aforementioned.

“I think it’s a little unrealistic to expect us to keep playing the same XI over and over again,” Dravid said in the press conference ahead of the second India-South Africa T20I in Guwahati.

He further added, “Some of the changes or experiments that people like to call them are sometimes forced upon you. If Bumrah doesn’t play the last game, it’s not because we are experimenting. It’s because he gets injured. The five match series against South Africa in June, we played exactly the same XI in all five matches. People were saying, ‘why don’t they change the XI?’….so I think we can’t win either way.”

“Whatever we do, people are going to say that.  But I think in the group and in the team, we are very confident and sure about what we’ve been doing. Sometimes it doesn’t seem very apparent from the outside but there are a lot of things that people outside can’t know. What niggles players are having…how we need to manage the players. If you notice, we were playing a Test match and at the same time we were playing a series in Ireland. So there are many things that go into this.”

With the Indian team applying final touches to their preparation ahead of the showpiece event later this month, Dravid also said he was confident of the skill set that was present in the 15-member squad announced, despite the injuries to Ravindra Jadeja, and now Jasprit Bumrah.

“You can’t pick the (playing) eleven months in advance, you don’t know the wicket, you don’t know what it’s like,” he said. “We have been very clear about the kind of skills that we want in the fifteen. For me that is very important. The squad that we pick for the T20 World Cup barring injuries, what were the kind of skills we were looking for.”

“In a tournament like the World Cup, you play in five different venues or four different venues in the league stage. And you play against five different teams, so you really need to have that little bit of versatility and flexibility in your squad that allows you to change up things, if you need to against a particular opposition. Yes, over the last few series we haven’t been able to play that squad due to a variety of reasons. And that can happen. But I think most of the guys in the fifteen now have had pretty decent amount of cricket, atleast in the last six months.”

Happy with Harshal Patel’s progression


Just as Jasprit Bumrah, ahead of the recently concluded India-Australia series, Harshal Patel marked his return to the India squad for the first time since the tour of England in July. For someone India have thought to be there death over bowling specialist in the big tournament up ahead, it hasn’t been the smoothest. In 12 overs of bowling, Harshal has conceded 125 runs and picked just three wickets. In the Australia series, he averaged 99.

Head coach Rahul Dravid though, feels optimistic of the 31-year-old’s progress.

“Harshal’s a really mentally strong cricketer,” he said.  “I think he’s preparing really well, he’s practicing really hard. It (slump in form) can happen.”

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“He’s also come off a little bit of an injury. Takes a little bit of time to get used to it but I thought he bowled a phenomenal final over against Australia in Hyderabad. Even if you look at the last over in the last game against South Africa in Trivandrum. I think in both Hyderabad and Trivandrum he bowled fantastic last overs. I think he gave eight runs and seven runs and he got Tim David’s wicket. In a tight game, that can make a big difference. We’re really happy with the way he’s progressing. The more and more games he plays, the better it will be for him.”

First published on: 01-10-2022 at 07:59:03 pm
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