Rahul Dravid shuts down experimentation critics ahead of Asia Cup 2023

Rahul Dravid
Rahul Dravid (image: BCCI)

With much criticism on the experimentation of young players on the squad, Indian Head Coach Rahul Dravid wants to put an end to the talks on the experimentation.

Rahul Dravid shuts down experimentation critics

With the squad for the Asia Cup announced on August 21, the head coach confirmed that KL Rahul will be missing the first two matches in the event. Asia Cup is set to start with Pakistan facing Nepal in the inaugural match on August 30 at Multan Cricket Stadium.

On this occasion, the head coach said the experiment is for filling the middle order in the batting line-up and said that there are specific reasons behind it.

“To be honest, the word ‘experimentation’ gets thrown around a lot without actually being thought through. It’s not like we’re experimenting for the sake of experimenting. There are specific reasons why you have to do that. For example, No.4 and No.5 get discussed a lot and it gives an impression that we don’t have clarity on who is going to be there,” said Dravid.

He said that it could be always between Shreyas, Rahul and Rishabh Pant to fill the middle order. All three of them have sustained serious injuries within a short range of two months gap and will take a certain period for them to recover.

“But to be honest, I could have told you 18 or 19 months ago who were the two or three candidates that we were looking at for No.4 or 5 slot. It was always going to be between Shreyas [Iyer], KL [Rahul] and Rishabh [Pant],” he added.

“If you look back at the teams that we picked 18 months ago, there were no doubts in our minds. It is unfortunate that all three ended up with injuries in a space of two months. What are the odds of that happening? Nobody could calculate that, especially with the limited number of games we were having in one-day cricket.”

Title Rights For India's Home Games
Indian Cricket Team (image: BCCI)

“We were also focusing on the T20 World Cup and World Test Championship. We were trying to balance that out, trying to give enough game-time to people. And all three of the guys pushing for that spot got injured in a space of three months.

“And not small injuries, all three of them had serious injuries. All three of them had to go under the knife and have operations. And when that happens, you have to react to that. You put other people in those positions and see who can do it, just in case come to a World Cup or come to a big event, we are ready,” he reasoned.

He mentioned that KL Rahul will be sidelined for two matches. With the criticisms on adding the injured members without any actual ODI actions after their return, he backs the player saying he has returned with full fitness and has played at practice matches. He was set to sit back for some games in the tournament giving him some time.

“So for us, at this point, it’s just about giving game time to other people and ensuring that we give them enough opportunities to play the roles that they are going to play in the tournament. That’s always been the endeavor.”

“He has looked good. He has had no issues. It’s pretty straightforward – he has come and he has played. It’s now just about us giving him some game time. One of the things he has missed is games and matches. It’s something we can give him in the Asia Cup and build him up for the World Cup.”

“In terms of fitness, everything he has done well in the camp – he has batted, fielded well, ticked all the boxes. Except of course the game time. He has played some practice games, but that’s not like the real thing like international cricket. Fortunately, we’ve got some game now with Asia Cup and a few games with Australia to top that up and give him the opportunity to tick that box as well,” felt Dravid.

“With the white-ball team, this is the first time we’ve had a camp where everyone has been able to come together. We had a few days where we’d come a couple of days earlier before matches. To have this access to very good facilities, to work on very specific stuff, got a lot of very specific match simulation stuff done over the last few days. We finished off with a session today but there were a lot of specific things done.

“As we’re playing so much, traveling so much, it’s a very difficult thing to do. I really like this. As a coach, it gives some very good time to work on some specifics with the players, some very good time to have conversations with players – about roles and skills,” he said.

Indian team has finished its camping in Alur, Karnataka, and is set to travel to Sri Lanka for the tournament. India will be playing their first match against their arch-rivals on September 2, at Pallekele International Stadium.

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