India must improve through middle overs: Dravid

Published January 25, 2022
In this file photo taken on February 5, 2018, India's U19 cricket team coach Rahul Dravid speaks during a news conference in Mumbai. — AFP
In this file photo taken on February 5, 2018, India's U19 cricket team coach Rahul Dravid speaks during a news conference in Mumbai. — AFP

CAPE TOWN: A 3-0 drubbing in South Africa is a timely reminder that India need to overhaul their approach to One-day International cricket and head coach Rahul Dravid says the problem lies in how they fared in the middle overs — both with bat and ball.

With regular skipper Rohit Sharma among a slew of players laid low by injuries, the team led by KL Rahul were whitewashed after their four-run loss in Cape Town on Sunday.

With India also missing all-rounders Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, and Washington Sundar due to injury, Dravid said the series was an “eye-opener” and that their conservative batting was down to a lack of team balance.

“We certainly could do better in the middle overs,” the former India captain told reporters after Sunday’s loss, which followed their 2-1 defeat in the preceding test series.

“We understand the template, and a large part of that template is dependent on the balance of your squad.

“Some of the guys who really help us balance out the squad and give us those all-round options at number six, seven and eight were not available for selection.

“Hopefully, when they come back, it will give us a little more depth, which will allow us to play in a slightly different style.”

India’s bowlers fared a little better, with seamers failing to strike early with the new ball and spinners struggling for success.

“I think through the middle overs we need to probably improve our wicket-taking options,” Dravid said.

“We do understand that’s an area in the game we have been behind a little bit — the ability to take wickets through the middle overs — and what we need to do about that.”

Meanwhile, Indian captain KL Rahul said there needs to be some “hard conversations” for the team after their ODI whitewash in South Africa.

India were expected to take the series and were boosted by the fact that all three games were played on pitches that suited their side, but could not get over the line.

“Our shot selection has been poor at times and with the ball we haven’t been hitting the right areas consistently enough,” Rahul said at the post-match presentation after the agonising loss in the third game at Newlands on Sunday.

“That’s why we ended up losing the series. We need to try and understand how we can get better as a team.”

India looked flat at times in the series, though that may have to do with the stifling heat all three games were played in. Rahul does not believe the players can be questioned for effort.

“I can’t fault the boys for the passion and the effort. Yes, in terms of skill and understanding the situation of the game, sometimes we have gone wrong, but that can happen.”

He believes what is important now is for the team to regroup and take stock of the series loss, and make changes where they feel it is necessary.

“We kept making the same mistakes but it is early on in our journey to the World Cup. So we must go back (home), have some hard conversations and look at ourselves in the mirror to see where we can get better.”

India began the tour by winning the opening Test in Centurion before suffering five consecutive defeats across two formats.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2022

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