The India team management, selection committee and captain Rohit Sharma are clear about their plans for the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup in Australia, but the squad hasn’t been finalised yet, head coach Rahul Dravid said on Sunday.
“There is no set time frame to freeze on a team. We don’t want to cast our net too wide but we also don’t want to just restrict ourselves to 15 players. By the time we get to the [T20] World Cup, we need to have a bunch of guys who have at least played 10-20 games,” Dravid said at a press conference after India beat West Indies in the third T20I in Kolkata to jump to the top of ICC’s T20I rankings.
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“It gives Rohit a number of options. It has to be balanced with the fact that we need to have a few backups in case injuries happen. In my mind, we are clear in the kind of balance and combination we want in Australia. We are structuring a little bit around it while managing individual workloads. We have a fair idea of the guys in running, but everything is not set in stone and we want to give others a fair chance to stake their claim to the spots as well,” Dravid said.
‘Need to be flexible’
The concept of batting positions has taken a backseat in T20’s fast-paced environment and it is more about reacting according to varying situations, believed Dravid.
“In T20s, you need to be flexible. That has been communicated to a lot of players and they have really embraced it well. We cannot always be predictable. We understand we want to get better in the middle order. We have to set good totals when we bat first. We need to have the flexibility [to change tactics] when you need to take down a particular bowler or in particular scenarios,” he said.
Venkatesh Iyer played a major role in Sunday’s win, registering an unbeaten, quickfire 19-ball 35. Dravid said Venkatesh, who opens the batting while with the Kolkata Knight Riders during the Indian Premier League (IPL), has a different role with the Indian team.
“He (Venkatesh) has had a really good series. After he played the three T20Is against New Zealand, we saw his potential. It gave him clarity on the kind of role that we have for him. I know he plays a different role for his IPL franchise, but we were very clear with him regarding the kind of role we expect of him. Obviously, our top three doesn’t have an empty spot and are all well-established. We challenged him to play at that position (No. 6). Every time he’s got a break, he has come back improved. That’s really pleasing. His bowling is coming along well. He bowled well in the first T20 and got us a couple of wickets today. The role of a sixth bowler is not always coming in to bowl but in situations like today, when we unfortunately lost Deepak, you probably would have to bowl a few critical overs,” Dravid said.
Dravid completed 100 days as coach on February 17 and he says it had been a great learning experience so far.
“I am not stressed too much about results. I just want the team to get better and move in the right direction. South Africa was a reality check for us especially in the one-day format. In Test cricket... while it was disappointing, a few things could have gone our way. I keep learning every day. New things crop up. I am going to make mistakes but I’ll get better,” he signed off.
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