India was clear about No 4 and No 5 batters 18 months ago, injuries disrupted plans: Rahul Dravid

Bengaluru: India had locked their number four and number five slot for the ODI World Cup almost 18 months ago but injuries to three batters in quick succession threw a spanner in their works, coach Rahul Dravid said on Tuesday.

Dravid said that injuries to the likes of Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant forced the team management to try out other players in the middle-order in recent times, and it was not experimenting just for the sake of it.

“The No 4 and 5 spots are discussed a lot and gives the impression that we didn’t have clarity that who is going to be there. I could have told you 18-19 months ago who the three candidates for the two spots were.

“It was always between Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant. There was not doubt,” Dravid said at India’s pre-departure presser ahead of the Asia Cup.

“It’s unfortunate that all three had injuries in the space of two months. What are the odds of that happening. 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.” The former Indian captain added, “This word (experimentation) keeps getting thrown around without being thought through. It’s not that we are experimenting for the sake of experimenting, sometimes there are specific reasons for it.” While Pant is still out of action after suffering multiple injuries in a horrific car accident on the Dehradun-Delhi highway in December last year, Iyer and Rahul hurt their back and thigh in March and May respectively.

Both Iyer and Rahul have recovered and are part of India’s Asia Cup squad. However, Rahul will miss the first two games due to a niggle.

Iyer’s back injury flared up after the fourth Border-Gavaskar Test against Australia in March. But the batter is set to bolster the Indian middle-order at the Asia Cup and World Cup.

“He has looked good. It’s now about us giving him game time. Hopefully, we can give him that at the Asia Cup and build him up for the World Cup. He has ticked all the boxes in this camp, batted a lot and fielded,” Dravid said.

Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah and Prasidh Krishna made a comeback after long injury layoffs and the coach is delighted to have more fast bowling options at his disposal.

“It’s great to have them back and see them bowling well. Jasprit is someone we have missed a lot in the past two years he hasn’t played much. We will ease him into it slowly.

“Ireland was a good opportunity to ease him in. Now we have a whole month to build that up before the World Cup. The duo’s return gives us more options in the pace bowling department.”

Home advantage significantly reduced in sub-continent

The former India skipper feels home advantage has significantly reduced for the sub- continent teams given that overseas players are now better equipped to navigate the Indian conditions because of their IPL experience.

“The whole thing of home advantage at sub-continent has reduced to a large extent over the past 10-12 years. People come and play here so much, especially tournaments like the IPL. They are here for two-three months getting used to conditions. It will be a tight tournament.”

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