India are going into the decider having already played eight home games — three versus Sri Lanka, three versus New Zealand and three against Australia finishing on Wednesday in Chennai.
Dravid wants to explore different playing XI combinations to get more clarity ahead of the ODI World Cup and doesn’t want to be surprised at the quadrennial event.
“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 mediapersons on the eve of the series decider against Australia on Tuesday.
This leg of home ODIs were very important as the players will now get into IPL and after that there is the big WTC final, followed by a tour of West Indies and a possible Asia Cup in Dubai.
“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.”
Injuries to Jasprit Bumrah, Iyer, Prasidh Krishna, Deepak Chahar does remain a concern but Dravid insisted that the team is in a 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. sometimes 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.”
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 be 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 does Surya’s first-ball ducks isn’t really worrying Dravid.
“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.”
‘At this point, 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 presuming 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 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 have given Kuldeep a pretty consistent run.
“We have Yuzi (Chahal), who is unfortunately is 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 is getting the run over the last few games.”
(With PTI inputs)