Rahul Dravid, the head coach of India, did not want to “make the mistake” of letting the 1-1 ODI series score divert attention from considering the “bigger picture” as India prepares for the 2023 World Cup, which will be held at home in this October-November.
Given that there are less than 10 games left before their World Cup opener against Australia in Chennai, Dravid meant the team is willing to strike a balance between giving players opportunities, even if it means resting seniors like Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, and winning while not obsessing over short-term results.
West Indies won the ODI series with a six-wicket victory at Bridgetown on Saturday, tying the series at 1-1. “I think we will always look at the bigger picture,” Dravid added. “To be honest, we have to consider the wider picture at this point in the cycle with the Asia Cup and World Cup approaching, as well as the ailments we have. We can’t stress about each and every game or series. This will be a mistake if we do it.
Rohit and Kohli were rested for the second ODI, which gave Sanju Samson and Axar Patel more playing time. Samson and Ishan Kishan will compete for the position of second wicketkeeper, and Axar is mostly thought of as Ravindra Jadeja’s back-up.
Samson only scored 9, while Axar, who was moved up to number 4, scored one. They contributed to a middle-order collapse that caused India to falter, going from 90 without losing to 181 all out. Dravid described it as a “challenging wicket” where 230 would have been expected, but he wasn’t worried about the outcome and instead chose to focus on the benefits of giving back-up players game time in the event that their regulars, Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul, who are currently recovering from injuries at the NCA, don’t make it.
Sincerely, Dravid stated, “This was our last opportunity to be able to try out some of our players.” “We have a handful of our guys at the NCA who are wounded. We are kind of running out of time in many ways with the Asia Cup only one month away. We also anticipate that some of them will be ready for the World Cup and Asia Cup. But we can’t take those chances; instead, we need to give other people a chance and give them a chance so that, in the worst case, they have game time.
“It presents us with a chance to choose some guys. We simply believed that playing Virat and Rohit in this series, with only two or three games remaining before the Asia Cup, would not have given us very many answers. However, given the injuries we have at the NCA and the uncertainty surrounding them, we wanted to give some of the other boys a chance so that, if necessary, they can play.
‘How to bat in middle overs’ is something Suryakumar is learning.
Suryakumar Yadav, who serves as India’s T20I vice-captain, is one of the players who has received playing time while Iyer is out. Suryakumar, who is renowned for his all-around ability in the shortest format, hasn’t been able to achieve the same success in the 50-over event.
Suryakumar has wasted starts in both of these games in the series. In the opening ODI, he attempted to sweep left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie but was out for 19 runs (lbw). He entirely abandoned the sweep in the second ODI, yet he was outcutting Motie for 24 runs. Suryakumar has played 23 ODI innings and averages just under 24 overall with just two half-centuries.
There’s no denying it, Surya is a pretty excellent player, Dravid added. “That has been demonstrated by his performances, particularly in T20 cricket and even in domestic white-ball cricket. He has put on some excellent performances. Unfortunately, he’d be the first to confess that his ODI statistics fall short of the high bar he’s set for himself in T20s. He’s also studying one-day cricket, though.
He participated in the IPL and played a lot of competitive T20 cricket before making his India debut, but there is no IPL for one-day cricket, so he hasn’t played as much of it. As a result, I believe he is also learning and attempting to understand how to bat in those middle overs. We want to give him as many opportunities as we can because he is talented and a really excellent player. Now it’s up to him to seize those chances and make use of them. However, given our current setup, we do prefer to give people every chance we can.
Then there are Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan, whose growth from youth cricket Dravid was aware of because he had worked with them at India Under-19. Dravid isn’t concerned with Gill’s lack of a half-century on this trip (across five innings), and he also applauds Kishan for seizing every chance to establish himself.
Dravid said, “I wouldn’t worry so much about Shubman.” “He’s playing incredibly well and batting well. He looks fantastic. You can’t condemn players after every game when low scores occur. Since the batting circumstances were difficult, we had to work hard and compete. I doubt we did that during the middle overs. However, Shubman is hitting well and is now a key player for us in all three formats. Ideally, he’ll play well in Trinidad.
India’s top batter in the series thus far has been Kishan, who has two innings with scores of 55 and 52. However, Kishan will face difficulties, particularly if India switches back to their usual top three of Rohit, Gill, and Kohli. Depending on how well Iyer and Rahul heal, he may have to compete for a middle-order position in such a case. But for now, Dravid is content with what he has observed.
“Ishan has performed exceptionally well; this is his third consecutive fifty [across formats].” Once more, he seizes opportunities when they present themselves. We only ask for it from young players because we want to give them every opportunity we can. Because there are other talented men out there, we can’t always give everyone a chance.
“We make an effort and provide as many opportunities as we can. Virat and Rohit had to sit out today to give others an opportunity. When it comes to huge tournaments, we sometimes have to take those risks and chances because we need to develop some of the players and find solutions for certain places given the circumstances.