Even with less than six weeks left for the ODI World Cup 2023 at home, the Indian cricket team is not sure about their starting XI. The experimentations are going on late with the most talked about point being an unsettled middle-order. After a heavy weight top-order, the middle-order is shaky for various reasons. Suryakumar Yadav has not performed well while Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul are back from injuries. Rookie Tilak Varma is still untested in ODIs.
Indian cricket team coach Rahul Dravid, in his pre-departure press conference ahead of the Asia Cup, said that the team management had locked their number four and number five slot for the ODI World Cup almost 18 months ago but injuries to three batters in quick succession threw a spanner.
Dravid said that injuries to the likes of Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant forced the team management to try out other players in the middle-order in recent times, and it was not experimenting just for the sake of it.
“The No 4 and 5 spots are discussed a lot and gives the impression that we didn’t have clarity that who is going to be there. I could have told you 18-19 months ago who the three candidates for the two spots were,” Coach Rahul Dravid said.
“It was always between Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant. There was not doubt,” Dravid said at India’s pre-departure presser ahead of the Asia Cup.
“It’s unfortunate that all three had injuries in the space of two months. What are the odds of that happening. All three guys pushing for those two spots, had serious injuries, had to go under the knife.
“So, you have to react to that, put other people in those positions and see who can do it. Just in case come a World Cup they are not fit. In that situation we tried a few people.”
The former Indian captain added, “This word (experimentation) keeps getting thrown around without being thought through. It’s not that we are experimenting for the sake of experimenting, sometimes there are specific reasons for it.”
While Pant is still out of action after suffering multiple injuries in a horrific car accident on the Dehradun-Delhi highway in December last year, Iyer and Rahul hurt their back and thigh in March and May respectively.
Both Iyer and Rahul have recovered and are part of India’s Asia Cup squad. However, Rahul will miss the first two games due to a niggle.
Iyer’s back injury flared up after the fourth Border-Gavaskar Test against Australia in March. But the batter is set to bolster the Indian middle-order at the Asia Cup and World Cup.
“He has looked good. It’s now about us giving him game time. Hopefully, we can give him that at the Asia Cup and build him up for the World Cup. He has ticked all the boxes in this camp, batted a lot and fielded,” Dravid said.
With PTI inputs
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