He is more than happy with the takeaways from the nine home ODIs that the Indian team has played and has already narrowed his World Cup core team to 17–18 players, head coach Rahul Dravid said on the eve of the series decider against Australia. India is going into the decider having already played eight home games: three versus Sri Lanka, three versus New Zealand, and three against Australia, which finishes on Wednesday.
Adequate preparation ahead of ODI World Cup
Did he achieve what he had set out to in nine home ODIs, keeping the World Cup in mind? "We have, to a large extent. We have a lot more clarity at the end of these nine games, irrespective of what happens tomorrow. We need to keep building on that clarity.
"For us, it is now the different playing XI combinations and just ensuring that we play different combinations at times just to ensure that we are able to do that in the World Cup and we are not surprised by anything in the World Cup," Dravid told media persons here on Tuesday.
No 4 conundrum
The head coach rued the absence of an injured Shreyas Iyer, who had been earmarked to bat at No. 4 in the World Cup. The coach at the same time was sympathetic towards Suryakumar Yadav, who hasn't yet set the ODI stage on fire, unlike the T20 format.
"Obviously. it is unfortunate for Shreyas to get injured. He is probably one of those guys who would bat at No.4 and given a lot of time at that position. If you notice, we have stuck to the people in positions. For two years leading into this run, there was a lot of T20 cricket played, and we did not have a lot of one-day cricket and if there are injuries and all that, we do have options." But Surya's first-ball ducks isn't really worrying Dravid said.
"Not really concerned about Surya. He got two very good balls. One of things about Surya is that he is learning the 50-overs game. The T20 is slightly different. In T20, he has played 10 years of IPL.
"He (Surya) has played a lot of T20 cricket. He has played a lot of high pressure T20 games. Even though he has played a lot of t20 cricket I think he has not played a lot of one-day cricket. We need to give him some time and be patient with it. We certainly see the upside of him doing well."
Injuries not a concern
This leg of home ODIs was very important as the players will now get into the IPL, and after that there is the big WTC final, followed by a tour of the West Indies and a possible Asia Cup in Dubai.
"We're probably not going to get too many more games under our conditions. We had the opportunity to play in these conditions, which is great. Yeah, coming out of the IPL to a large extent, we are pretty clear about the kind of squad and the players we want. We have narrowed it down to 17-18 players." Injuries to Jasprit Bumrah, Iyer, Prasidh Krishna, and Deepak Chahar do remain a concern, but Dravid insisted that the team is in a good headspace.
"We have some guys who are recovering from injuries and will come into the picture based on their recovery. All in all, we are pretty much in good shape. We are able to give those on whom we have zeroed in as many playing opportunities as possible.
"There are a couple of different combinations that we would like to try. It is a big tournament, a long tournament in India, and we want to have that flexibility in our squad. sometimes four fast bowlers, sometimes three spinners. Within the squad, we will like to maintain options just to ensure that we have covered all our bases for all conditions."
Kuldeep will get longer run than Yuzi
Consistency in selection has always been key for Dravid, and right now, if there is one wrist spinner, who will get a long rope, it will be Kuldeep Yadav and not Yuzvendra Chahal.
"We are always assuming that the wickets will spin in India. We just actually presume. I don't think the last 2 spun at all. We never know what we are going to get in the World Cup," Dravid said.
"In the league phase, nine cities, it is in October, the wickets won't be as tired as they probably are in the IPL and (that too) at the back-end of our summer. You just have to get all your bases covered." A wrist spinner does give an advantage to a side in middle overs, agreed Dravid.
"Obviously, having a wrist spinner, if he is bowling well, is a huge advantage. Taking wickets in the middle overs is important. A wrist spinner gives that chance to be attacking and take wickets in the middle overs, which is why we have given Kuldeep a pretty consistent run.
"We have Yuzi (Chahal), who is unfortunately a very fine bowler and is missing out. At the moment, we believe in giving people a consistent run before we make decisions, and Kuldeep is the one that has been getting the run over the last few games."
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