Rahul Dravid has remarked that the workload management phase of team India is now over with the focus shifting on testing and reinforcing the best combinations ahead of the World T20. He went on to weigh in on the Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik debate, outlining the process behind team selection.
India has a pretty hectic schedule over the next couple of months as it looks to add two key titles to its cabinet in the form of the Asia Cup and the World T20. Currently in the United Arab Emirates to play the former, the Men in Blue have started out brilliantly winning the group stage games against Pakistan and Hong Kong, thus qualifying to the Super Fours where they again face the Men in Green in Dubai on Sunday.
The tournament has seen the return of KL Rahul from injury as well as Virat Kohli playing after several rest periods. This is the first time an Indian T20I team featured all three of Rohit Sharma, Rahul, and Kohli in the top three since ICC World T20 2021, thus making clear India are here to play the strongest possible team.
"Unless there's an injury or a niggle, or someone needs to be kept out, we've always come here wanting to play our best possible squad or the best possible XI that we can select," head coach Rahul Dravid said in the pre-match press conference as quoted by India Today.
"The next four games as well, depending on who is available, we will be looking to play our best side."
Ahead of the ICC marquee event Down Under where India's campaign starts on October 23, the team is slated to play three T20Is against Australia at home followed by a South Africa visit for three games in both white-ball formats. Premier pacer Jasprit Bumrah is expected to return from injury during this period. However, the hosts will still be without the services of Ravindra Jadeja who is set to undergo knee surgery and has been ruled out of the Asia Cup as well.
"There's not going to be any workload management over the next three or four days unless of course it's forced upon us - for example, [Ravindra] Jadeja. Other than that, no. We're looking to play every single game trying to win this tournament and do the best we can. We'll have time after that to manage the workloads. From now on in leading into the World Cup, we want to be playing our best squad as and when possible," Dravid remarked.
A major question over India's lineup selection is the Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik conundrum. While the former has been a mainstay in the team for a long time, he sat out the first game against Pakistan to allow Karthik to play but played against Hong Kong replacing Hardik Pandya. Dravid explained how the decisions were taken and what it says for the future.
"Again, we play the situation, we play the conditions, we play the opposition - what we feel on the day,' he said. "There's no such thing as a first-choice playing XI. Or that this is the first XI and we play the same for every single game and every single condition. That will change according to the situation,” the former batter said.
"On that day, against Pakistan, we felt that Dinesh was the right choice. Like I said earlier, it's always going to be difficult to leave out anyone. We play Rishabh and leave out DK and a lot of people are going to be upset with that. We can't rely on that and, honestly, we don't pay much attention to that."