On a day that Virat Kohli was picked in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC’s) T20 Team of 2022, India head coach Rahul Dravid stressed that Kohli’s exclusion from the two T20I series this month is with an eye on keeping him fresh for the forthcoming Test series versus Australia.
“With the amount of cricket we are playing - with a four-match very important Border-Gavaskar Trophy, from the World Test Championship final qualification perspective - there are certain white-ball tournaments that we have to prioritise,” Dravid said here on Monday.
“The priority after the last T20 World Cup is these six (ODI) games and Virat has played all these games. He will get a bit of a break along with Rohit (Sharma) and one or two other guys where we will play some T20 cricket and they’ll come refreshed on the 2nd (February) and we have a good week’s camp before we play Australia. So it’s about priorities at certain stages.”
India has planned a preparatory camp in Nagpur from February 2 ahead of the first Test in Nagpur from February 9. The camp will clash with the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals, starting January 31. While Dravid clarified that none of India’s Test squad members will be released for the quarterfinals, he kept a window open for the reserves to be released for the semifinal and the final, if required.
“The quarterfinal is on the 31st and our build-up for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is exactly at the same time. Obviously in a lead-up to a big tournament like that, obviously you are not going to be able to release any players (for the quarterfinal) but once the series starts, if an opportunity presents itself where someone is not playing in our team and he is required for a semifinal or a final, we will certainly look at it,” Dravid said.
“We are quite keen to call a few (additional) guys in the lead-up, for our preparation camp and we have already agreed with the selectors that we will not be touching anyone who will be playing in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals.”
Despite a growing clamour on workload management not coming into play when it comes to Indian cricketers’ availability for the Indian Premier League (IPL), Dravid said the fit players cannot be stopped from playing in the league.
“Injury management and workload management are two completely different things. We have to keep balancing between the two,” Dravid said.
“For the IPL, our medical team is constantly in touch with the NCA and the franchises and we see if there are any issues, we do connect with them and see what’s happening. If any of the big players are injured or if there is any concern, of course the BCCI has a right to pull them out but if they are fit, we do release them for the IPL because it is a very big tournament for the BCCI and for us (the team) as well.”
With Rohit being rested for the six T20Is in the New Year and Hardik Pandya leading the team, there is a buzz about India adopting split captaincy. Dravid denied the theory. When asked if India has adopted split captaincy, he said: “Not that I am aware of. That’s a question you need to ask the selectors but as of now, I don’t think so.”