We have narrowed down to 17-18 players for ICC World Cup, says India coach Rahul Dravid

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CHENNAI: Ahead of India’s third ODI against Australia in Chennai, India head coach Rahul Dravid said that the team has narrowed down to 17-18 players for the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup this year, which will take place in October-November this year in India.

For India, their third ODI against Australia is their last 50-over game before a tour to West Indies in August. They may have three more matches in India before the World Cup starts.

“I think, to a large extent, we are pretty clear about the squad and players we want,” Dravid said at a press conference as quoted by ESPNCricinfo.

“We have almost sort of narrowed it down to 17-18 players. We have a few guys who are sort of recovering from injuries and might come into the mix, depending on the timeframe of their recoveries and how long it takes for them to come back.”

“But all in all, we are pretty much in a good space, we are pretty clear about the kind of team we want to play. Hopefully, we are able to give these guys who we have zeroed in as many playing opportunities as we can. If in India, great, but even if not in India, it is just [a matter of ensuring that] they get as many opportunities as you can [give them] to build a side,” Dravid said.

He suggested that team is willing to try out different combinations and adopt a “horses for courses” approach during the marquee cricketing event. The surface in Chennai is likely to assist spinners. But India’s spin combination is a guessing game as Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar are in the mix and have performed well whenever given a chance.

“Within our 15 or 16 players, there are a couple of different combinations that we would like to try and see which one is working,” Dravid said.

“It [World Cup] is a big tournament, it is a long tournament in India, and we are playing in nine different cities and nine different conditions. So you just want to have that flexibility in your squad as well, to be able to play sometimes four fast bowlers, sometimes three spinners. Just you want to have that flexibility. Within the squad we would like to sort of look at different options, just to ensure that we have covered all our bases for all conditions.”

“To a large extent, I think we have got a lot more clarity at the end of these nine games, irrespective of whatever happens tomorrow. I think we will just keep building on that clarity. We are quite clear about the kind of squad we want. For us now, it is really just about 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,” the coach said.

Dravid does not feel concerned by the ODI form of Suryakumar Yadav, who was out to Mitchell Starc for two back-to-back golden ducks in the first two ODIs.

While Suryakumar has been a revelation in the shortest format of the game and was recently crowned the ICC Men’s T20I Cricketer of the Year for 2022, the explosive star has not yet been able to match his heroics in 50-over cricket.

Suryakumar has passed 50 just twice in 23 ODI appearances and the 32-year-old has made it into double figures on just three occasions in his last 10 innings.

The batter has contrasting figures in both formats. While he has done well in T20Is, scoring 1,675 runs in 46 innings across 48 innings at an average of 46.52, with three centuries and 13 fifties. In the ODIs, he has played 22 matches and scored only 433 runs at an average of 25.47 across 20 innings, with only two fifties.

Dravid said that Suryakumar is still adjusting to the tempo of the 50-over format and that he will come good with more experience under his belt. He also pointed out that the batter got out on two great balls.

“Not really concerned so much about Suryakumar,” Dravid said.

“He got two first-ballers against two pretty good balls. One of the things about Surya is he is also learning the 50-over game a little bit. The T20 game is slightly different.”

“Even though he had not played for India for a long time, in T20 cricket, he played nearly ten years of IPL, and a lot of IPL cricket, which is a tournament which is like international cricket. He has played a lot of high-pressure T20 games but in one-day cricket, there is no equivalent tournament in domestic cricket, you will have to play Vijay Hazare [Trophy] and all that. Even though he has played a lot of T20 cricket, I think he has not played a lot of one-day cricket. We just need to give him some time and be patient with him. We certainly see the upside of him doing well, which is very good for the side,” Dravid said. (ANI)

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