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With a rotated squad for their home T20I series with Sri Lanka, India head coach Rahul Dravid has called for patience as the team’s future stars find their feet.
India fell to Sri Lanka by 16 runs in the second T20I in Pune, with touring captain Dasun Shanaka crowned Player of the Match after a storming performance with bat and ball. The teams meet in Rajkot on Thursday in the series decider.
Bowling discipline came under the microscope in the defeat at the MCA Stadium, with wides and no-balls leaked in a Sri Lankan total of 206/6. India struggled with the bat early in reply at 34/4, with the salvage effort from Suryakumar Yadav (51 from 36 balls) and Axar Patel (65 from 31 balls) ultimately to no avail.
Struggling for his run-up on his return to the international fold, Arshdeep Singh bowled three no-balls on the trot in his first over, before bowling two more in his death-over return. He finished with 0/37 from the two overs, as Sri Lanka capitalised on the extra opportunities.
Dravid was quick to defend Arshdeep and the young bowling group for the inconsistency, explaining that experience will yield results.
“Nobody wants to bowl wides and no-balls in any format of the game, but especially in the T20 format of the game.
“The young kids will have games like this at times, and I think we all need to be patient with them, (but) we need to be understanding that games like this can’t happen.
“I think as they’re learning, it’s tough. It’s not easy learning in international cricket. You have to learn on the job. I think we’re going to have to have a little bit of patience with these guys.
Perhaps with an eye to the 2024 T20 World Cup in USA and the West Indies, India have shuffled the playing group for the series, with just four members of the 2022 T20 World Cup semi-final defeat to England taking the field in the second outing of the recent series.
Dravid admitted the other two formats are higher in priority this year, though the team wish to make the most of the chances to shore up the country’s collective depth in T20 cricket.
“The good thing is that this year, a lot of the focus is going to be obviously on the 50-over World Cup and the World Test Championship. The T20 games that we have, it probably gives us an opportunity to try out a lot of the younger guys and hopefully give them opportunities and to just back and support them.
“Of course they are improving. We keep working hard and we keep trying to help them support them technically, you know, with whatever we can, in terms of support and also just creating the right environment for them to be able to get the best out of their skills.”
Dravid confirmed that wholesale changes will not be forthcoming for the series decider, with a final XI likely to hinge on the state of the Rajkot surface.
“I haven’t thought about the third match. Once we go there we’ll have a look at the wicket (we will assess) but no, I don’t expect there to be too much of experimenting. The boys already who are playing are very young team.”
“So we are not going to be chopping and changing people too much.”
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The accolades continue to roll in for Suryakumar Yadav as the India dynamo and world’s best T20I batter reached a new career-high rating on the updated MRF Tyres ICC Men’s T20I Batting Rankings.