Team India head coach Rahul Dravid has said that the side depends heavily on Hardik Pandya when it comes to the fast-bowling all-rounder department. He also shared that the team management is on the lookout for more pace bowlers who can contribute with the bat too. However, Dravid shared this at a press conference after India’s 16-run defeat to Sri Lanka in the second T20I in Pune on Thursday (January 5) as well.
Bowling first after winning the toss, India failed to do well with the ball, giving away 206-6 in 20 overs. While chasing, Team India could manage 190-8 as well. However, Team India lost five wickets for 57 runs, but Axar Patel (65), Suryakumar Yadav (51) and Shivam Mavi (26) contributed well. While speaking after the game, Rahul Dravid opined on the need for more bowling all-rounders apart from Hardik Pandya. He said:
“In the fast-bowling all-rounder area, we rely heavily on Hardik. We are looking around for other people to step up and maybe do a job for us. It was nice to see Mavi bat today. It brings a smile to your face when you can see one of your fast bowlers being able to bat like that.”
After India lost five wickets, Axar Patel and Suryakumar Yadav added 91 runs for the sixth wicket. While responding to a query on Axar’s stunning improvement in batting, Rahul Dravid lauded the all-rounder. He commented:
“He’s certainly doing a very good job, and his batting is coming on in leaps and bounds. We always knew his quality with the ball; it was all about developing his batting. He’s working really hard on it. In whatever opportunities Axar has got, especially with (Ravindra) Jadeja missing quite a lot of cricket just recently, he hasn’t let us down. Really good sign for us to have people like him.”
Before smashing a 31-ball 65 in the second T20I, Axar Patel had also played a handy 31* in the first game of the series in Mumbai. He earlier contributed a crucial 34 in the second innings of the Mirpur Test as well. Meanwhile, Rahul Tripathi made his debut in the second T20I. While he was dismissed for five, he did pull off a stunning catch in the field. Praising Tripathi for his dedication, Rahul Dravid said:
“Felt really good for Rahul” – Rahul Dravid on Rahul Tripathi
“Felt really good for Rahul. He is not very young as a player. Inexperienced may be for India, but he is 30-year-old, has played a lot of cricket and worked very hard in domestic cricket. He has come here through sheer performances. He’s earned it.”
However, Rahul Dravid also opined on Arshdeep Singh’s below-par show with the ball on Thursday night. The young lad had returned to action against the Pune T20I against Sri Lanka but had a rather forgettable outing which eventually made headlines as he bowled five no-balls in his 2-over spell and conceded 37 runs which saw Sri Lanka post 206/6 in 20 overs. When asked about the no-balls bowled by Arshdeep, Dravid said it’s a learning curve for him and others need to be patient as well. He shared:
“We need to be patient with a lot of these young kids, There are a lot of youngsters playing in this team, especially our bowling attack. They are young kids, they will have games like this. We all need to be patient with them, we need to be understanding that games like this can happen.”
However, he also stated that young guns are improving. And, amid this tough competition, they can have such off-days as this is a huge learning experience for them as well.
“Of course, they are improving, we keep working hard and we need to help them and support them, technically, in whatever we can in terms of support and create the right environment and get the best of their skills. Very skilful, but they are learning, it’s tough, it’s not easy learning and playing international cricket and you have to learn on the job, So, yeah you got to have a little bit of patience with these guys. The good thing is this year a lot of focus is going to be on the 50-over World Cup and the T20 games we have to give us the opportunity to try out these younger guys and hopefully give them opportunities and support them when they have tough games likes this, which they will (in future too),” Rahul Dravid concluded.