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Playing Virat, Rohit would not have given us too many answers: Rahul Dravid

Last updated on 30 Jul 2023 | 04:34 AM
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Playing Virat, Rohit would not have given us too many answers: Rahul Dravid

Despite a crushing six-wicket loss at the hands of the West Indies in the second ODI, the India head coach defends thee team selection

India head coach Rahul Dravid has defended resting Virat Kohli and skipper Rohit Sharma for the second ODI against West Indies, insisting that there is very less time to give players opportunities ahead of the Asia Cup and the World Cup. India succumbed to a six-wicket loss on Saturday (July 30), and as a result, the three-match series stands level at 1-1.

Kohli did not get a chance to get in the first ODI despite India losing five wickets, while Rohit came in to bat at seven. For Dravid, though, results at this stage do not matter as long as various players get an opportunity.

"This [series] was our last chance to try out some of our players," Dravid said after India's defeat. 

"We have a few players injured at the NCA. With a month to go for the Asia Cup, we're running out of time in a lot of ways. We're hopeful that some of them will be fit for the Asia Cup and the World Cup. We can't take those chances. We've to try out other players and give some chances so that, in a worst-case scenario, they have some game time behind them.

"It gives us some time to make decisions on players. We just felt that, in a series like this, with just two-three matches to go before the Asia Cup, playing Virat and Rohit would not have given us too many answers. With the injuries we have at the NCA and some uncertainty around them, we wanted to give the other boys some chance. So that, if required, they can play."

Ishan Kishan is perhaps the only Indian batter who has looked in fine form, cracking fifties in both games so far. India have experimented with the middle-order quite a bit, with Suryakumar Yadav, Sanju Samson and even Axar Patel getting a look in.

"We will always look at the bigger picture. At this stage in the cycle, with the Asia Cup and the World Cup coming up, in some ways, with the injuries that we have, we have to look at the bigger picture. We can't look at every single game and every single series. If we do that, I think it will be a mistake," the India head coach said.

Speaking of Suryakumar, Dravid insists that the team will back him despite averaging under 24 in his 25 games so far, far from his outstanding T20I records, a format he is ranked No. 1 in the world. Dravid believes he is still learning to play one-day cricket, and given the talent he has, he will be given a long rope.

"Surya is a really good player, there is no doubt about that. He has shown that. Especially in T20 cricket, in domestic cricket, in white-ball cricket. He has some very good performances. He would be the first one to admit that his ODI numbers haven't been up to the standards or the standards that he has set in T20," Dravid said.

"He's also probably learning ODIs. He has played a lot of competitive T20 cricket through the IPL before he made his debut for India. In one-dayers, he hasn't played as much competitive cricket because there is no IPL for one-dayers.

"He's also learning about his game and learning to bat in the middle overs. He is a talent and we want to give him as many opportunities as we can. It is really up to him now to take those opportunities and use those opportunities. In the kind of setup, we are, we give people as many chances as we possibly can."

On the other hand, Kishan has not been given many opportunities consistently but averages over 44 in 16 matches, which already includes a double ton and five fifties. 

Speaking of the southpaw, Dravid said, "Ishan has done really well, this is his third fifty in a row, counting the Test match as well. He's taking the opportunities when given a chance. That's all that we ask from young players. We want to give them as many chances as we possibly can. We can't give chances to everyone all the time. There are other talented guys as well. We try as much as we can.

"Today, to give people chances, Virat and Rohit sat out. We might have to take those risks, take those chances in situations like that. If we're building for big tournaments and big events, we need to build some players and get some answers for specific positions, especially considering the situation we're in."

With the series on the line, the action shifts to the Brian Lara Stadium in Trinidad for the decider on Tuesday (August 1). 

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