‘The word is thrown at us without a thought’: Dravid blasts criticism over ‘experimentation’, opens up on Iyer, Rahul


The word “experimentation” has been the most commonly word used in the last couple of weeks to describe or criticise or give a verdict on the Indian team. And although head coach Rahul Dravid seemingly made it clear that he is rather bored and annoyed of the usage of the word when asked about India’s plan in the Asia Cup with the ODI World Cup in mind, he opted for a more composed approach to the query. Speaking to the media at the end of India’s six-day camp in Alur for the continental event, Dravid explained how the Indian team went from having a set of clear middle-order options to desperately looking for back-ups just weeks before the event.

Indian cricket team head coach Rahul Dravid during a press conference ahead of the Asia Cup 2023, in Bengaluru, Tuesday, Aug 29(PTI)

The word “experimentation” crept its way into discussion when Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid were seen altering their batting positions and trying new options while the captain himself and Virat Kohli took a backseat during the West Indies limited-overs tour. Dravid had cleared it up back then saying that with uncertainty over the return of mainstay middle-order options, India have been forced to keep their back-up options ready for a worst-case scenario.

KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer, the middle-order batters, who have missed the international matches since June owing to their injuries, returned to the Asia Cup squad. Although Rahul won’t be available for the first two matches of the tournament, Dravid was pleased with the progress of the twoduring the training camp. But the question on “experimentation” was posed to the batting legend, yet again.

“To be very honest with you, this word experimentation gets thrown around a lot without actually sometimes being thought through,” Dravid began. “It’s not that we are trying to sometimes experiment for the sake of experimenting. Sometimes there are specific reasons why you have to do certain things.”

‘India were clear about No 4 and No 5 batters 18 months ago’

Iyer and Rahul were India’s No. 4 and 5 in the ODIs before they went out with injuries and Dravid reminded the media of the same as he continued explaining. He revealed that the two along with Rishabh Pant were India’s clear options for the middle-order before the most unfortunate news struck the team. Pant was ruled out of the entirety of 2023 owing to a tragic car accident last December, Iyer incurred a lower back stress while Rahul was down with a hamstring injury.

“Just to give you an example, the No. 4 and 5 spots seem to get discussed and talked about a lot,” Dravid said. “It gives the impression that we don’t have clarity on who was going to be there, but to be very honest with you, I could have told you 18 or 19 months ago the top two-three candidates we were looking at for the No. 4, 5 slots. It was always going to be Shreyas [Iyer], KL [Rahul] and Rishabh [Pant] for those spots, right?

“If you look back on some of the teams that we picked from 18 months ago, there was no doubt in our minds. Obviously, it’s unfortunate that all three of them ended up with injuries in the space of two months. What are the odds of that happening? And I don’t think we can, nobody can, calculate for that, especially with the limited number of games that we had in one-day cricket. 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.”


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