Rahul Dravid, India’s head coach for the Sri Lanka tour, said that it was too late to provide technical inputs to the Indian youngsters readying for an international game. The Indian cricket legend highlighted the tactical inputs he shared with the new faces before the third T20I at the R Premadasa Stadium, though.
India's tour of Sri Lanka saw as many as 14 international caps being awarded in the Indian camp. With most of the senior players in England for the Test tour, the Indian think-tank decided to test fringe players for the Sri Lanka tour under the captaincy of Shikhar Dhawan, with Rahul Dravid as the head coach.
After Krunal Pandya tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, though, eight other players – Hardik Pandya, Suryakumar Yadav, Prithvi Shaw, Deepak Chahar, Krishnappa Gowtham, Ishan Kishan and Yuzvendra Chahal – were ruled out of the series for deemed to have come in close contact with the all-rounder.
Nevertheless, despite their selection woes, Team India decided to continue with the tour and were forced to play the fringe players from the squad.
While replying to a question from Sportskeeda in the post-match press conference, Rahul Dravid spoke on the kind of discussions he had with the new faces ahead of the third T20I and also reflected on the side’s performances.
“It’s actually too late if you go on to provide technical inputs just before they go on to play an international game," said Dravid. "Of course, we do discuss tactics like how to play with five batters and six bowlers, how we are going to construct an innings. We did debate on topics like if we should bowl first, but then with the experience in the last game, we thought otherwise.
“Actually, in the last game, we constructed the innings pretty well, considering we had only five batsmen. Suppose we had a couple of hits along the way at the backend and got to 145-150; in that case, we could have probably won that game,” said Dravid.
India scored 132 in the second match, but managed to take the game to the final over. The match marked the international debuts of Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Chetan Sakariya and Nitish Rana.
However, the final match of the series was disappointing for the visitors, as they managed a paltry 81 to lose by seven wickets. The defeat marked India’s first-ever T20I series loss against Sri Lanka.
Once you are 25 for four, you are going to struggle with five batters: Rahul Dravid
Rahul Dravid said that the visitors weren't wrong with their tactics while crediting the Sri Lankan bowlers for their performances, saying in this regard:
“So basically, you have these sort of tactical discussions before a game. We knew what the wicket was like; we knew what to get on it, but sometimes it doesn’t happen how you plan. It doesn’t mean our tactics were wrong. They (Sri Lanka) bowled better than us today. We misread a few balls.
“Once you are 25 for four, you are going to struggle if you have just five batsmen. So yes, the discussions were more tactical than the mental side of things,” added Dravid.
Rahul Dravid has mentored most of the Indian youngsters in his earlier stint as the India-A and Under-19 coach.
With Prithvi Shaw as captain, Rahul Dravid oversaw India's 2018 Under-19 World Cup triumph as a coach. Two years earlier, the team coached by Dravid and captained by Ishan Kishan finished runner-up. That side had Rishabh Pant, now an integral part of the Test side, as the wicketkeeper.