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Ashwin isn't on trial, no threat to Surya's place in side: Dravid

Source: PTI
September 21, 2023 20:51 IST
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IMAGE: Ahead of the first ODI against Australia, India coach Rahul Dravid said it was a blessing to have a player of R Ashwin’s calibre at their disposal. Photographs: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

A bowler of Ravichandran Ashwin's calibre can't be put on "trial", while someone possessing Suryakumar Yadav's ability need not worry about his place in the World Cup squad, an unusually aggressive head coach Rahul Dravid said on the eve of three-match ODI series against Australia.

Ashwin has been called up alongside Washington Sundar as a possible replacement for Axar Patel if the spin-bowling all-rounder fails to recover from his quadricep tear.

While this ODI series has been billed as a trial between Ashwin and Washington, the India head coach doesn't want to use the word "trial" for someone of the stature of the veteran off-spinner.

"I will not say that for him it is a trial or anything (for Ashwin), we know his quality. This is a chance for him to play in this format and we just want to give him an opportunity to play in two or three games," Dravid said during the media conference.

‘Blessing to have a player like Ashwin’

"If we have a player like Ashwin, who we can rely upon if someone is injured, it's a blessing for us. It's a good chance for him to test himself because he has not played 50-over cricket for a long time," Dravid said about the bowler, who has 151 ODI wickets in 113 games but has played only two 50-over games for India in the past six years.

In case Axar can't make it, Ashwin will be an ideal candidate to bat at No. 8 with his years of experience.

IMAGE: Dravid believes its a good chance for Ashwin to test himself in the ODI format. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

"Someone like Ashwin provides you that experience, that ability to also contribute with the bat at No. 8. Someone we always thought of that in case, there are certain opportunities opened, he is someone, who is definitely a part of your plans," Dravid explained the rationale behind calling Ashwin to play this format after 19 months.

In case of Suryakumar, the 'Wall' was more or less bullish the team is fully backing the T20 stalwart to come good in a version where has an average of less than 25 in 27 ODIs.

So, should Surya worry about September 27, the day India will announce its final 15 for the World Cup?

"I don't think Surya needs to worry about the 27th. That's not why we picked our team for the World Cup, and Surya is in it and we have made our decision to do that and we completely back it," said an assertive Dravid while backing the right-hander from Mumbai.

IMAGE: Suryakumar Yadav will get a chance to get his ODI game on track in the Australia series. Photograph: Christopher Pike/Reuters

"We back him (Surya) because he has quality and ability that we have seen. Yes, we know, we have at the moment, seen it in T20 cricket but we know the kind of impact a player like him can make. He can change the course of a game and we completely back him, we are clear about that," Dravid added. 

‘In terms of selection, we’ve made our decision’ 

The coach said Surya will play the first two games, if not all three and he is confident that he will come good.

"There is total clarity on the fact that we are completely behind him and hopefully he will be able to turn it around.

"Hopefully, he is someone who will get these three games and at least the first couple certainly to be able to develop and continue his journey as an ODI cricketer. But in terms of selection, we made our decision."

‘Lot of decisions are made in discussions with them’

It is also learnt that the fast-bowling unit will be rotated during the series to keep it fresh for the marquee event, something which has led the team management to rest both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.

IMAGE: Dravid said the senior players have their own routines ahead of big tournaments. Photograph: Ed Sykes/Reuters

"People like Virat and Rohit specifically, from our perspective, it's really important to get them to that World Cup in a physical and mental space that they want to be in. They know how they need to prepare themselves and a lot of these decisions are made in discussions with them," he clarified.

The team management does make exceptions for senior players, who have their own routines and know their body well.

"Senior and more experienced guys have their routines and know how they want to prepare in the lead-up to a big event like the World Cup.

"I think, based on those discussions, we come up with mutual decisions to just take off and refresh mentally more than anything else. They would come back in Rajkot and then it will be a tough couple of months ahead for us," he signed off.

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