On the eve of the third ODI against Australia at Chepauk, India head coach Rahul Dravid said that the team has already narrowed its World Cup core squad to 17-18 players from the nine 50-over fixtures at home this year.
The Men in Blue are heading into the series-decider having already played eight home matches – three versus Sri Lanka, three versus New Zealand and three against Australia culminating on Wednesday (March 22).
“We have to a large extent. We have got 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 reporters.
The head coach lamented the absence of an injured Shreyas Iyer, who was India’s designated No. 4 batter in ODIs since the last World Cup.
Dravid also expressed sympathy for Suryakumar Yadav, who is yet to make an impact in the 50-over 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 is 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.”
Surya has been dismissed for two successive golden ducks in the ongoing ODI series but the coach isn’t too concerned about it.
“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.”
After the end of the ODI series against Australia, the Indian players will feature in the IPL followed by the WTC final, a tour of West Indies and the Asia Cup.
“Probably not going to get too many more games in 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,” Dravid remarked.
While the likes of Iyer, Jasprit Bumrah, Iyer, Prasodh Krishna and Deepak Chahar remain out of action due to injuries, Dravid insisted that the team is in good head space.
“We have some guys who are recovering from injuries and will come into the frame based on their recovery. All in all, we are pretty much in good space. We are able to give those who we have zeroed in on as many playing opportunities.
“There are a couple of different combinations that we would like to try. It is a big tournament, a long tournament in India, we want to have that flexibility in our squad. some times four fast bowlers, sometimes three spinners. Within the squad we will like to keep the options. just to ensure that we have covered all our bases for all conditions.”
(With PTI Inputs)