India’s head coach Rahul Dravid said Rohit Sharma’s workload, as an all-format player and the team’s captain, must be managed and also spoke about the return of Hardik Pandya to the white-ball set-up

Indian men’s team head coach Dravid addressed a press conference at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, Delhi ahead of the first T20I in the five-match T20i series against South Africa set to begin on June 9.

“Rahul has captained before, we are clear on a lot of things. Rohit is our all-format player. It would be unwise to expect everyone to be available every single game, every single time”, said Dravid.

“We want to ensure that they are fit for the big tournaments, we need to manage them before that to ensure that they are peaking at the big games. Obviously, with the one-off Test match in the UK, which was a spillover from last year, we need to ensure that we are able to get the best side available for that Test match.

“With the kind of busy schedule that we have, it doesn’t bother us. We understand that there are times we will have to rest our big players and we may not be able to field our strongest side all the time but it is also an exciting opportunity for a lot of younger guys, which they probably might not have got. It helps us improve the depth of our squad, so there are some positives as well.”

He elaborated that rotation is part of the process.

“It is balance between managing the workload of some of the players, especially who have been a part of all three formats of the game for us in the last six months and continue to do that over the next six months.

“We have rested a few players, that’s all part of thee process. We have done that in the last few series, we haven’t played with everyone that’s available. We’ll continue to do that for a little bit hopefully closer to the T20 world Cup, till we freeze everyone and get everyone available. It is important to manage people through a very busy calendar,” he said.

Hardik Pandya’s comeback

Dravid also spoke about the return of Hardik Pandya.

“It is really pleasing to have him back, no doubt about it. Hardik at his best is a fantastic cricketer with both bat and ball. He’s been very successful in white-ball cricket for India in the past and has shown some really good form in this IPL as well,” Dravid said adding that that sometimes the franchise roles and international roles might be different.

Later on, he spoke about young Indian captains do well in the IPL as well.

“His leadership was very impressive in the IPL and he performed well. You don’t have to be designated as a leader to be part of the leadership group.

“At this point of time from our perspective it is a positive that he has started bowling again. It is really about ensuring that we can get the best out of him as a cricketer in terms of contributions.

“It is great that we have a lot of Indian captains doing well. Hardik was one of them. Brilliant. KL did a good job at LSG and Sanju in RR. Shreyas in KKR,” Dravid said at a press conference.

“It is really great to see the young batters leading the team. It helps people grow and develop as players, having to lead teams to make the decisions. It helps you grow as a person and as a player.

“It is great from our perspective that the younger Indian players are leading well in the IPL,” he added.

Dinesh Karthik in finisher’s role

Another player making a comeback to the international scheme of things is Dinesh Karthik. The Tamil Nadu veteran was in great form for RCB during the IPL 2022 in a finisher role and that is what Dravid hoped to see more of.

“It’s very clear that he has made a comeback based on the skills that he has shown in a particular phase of the game. At that backend, Dinesh has really been able to show great consistency for the last 2 to 3 years. He has been able to make a difference in whichever team he has played,” Dravid said.

“I don’t see it any different and that’s why he has been picked. He has been picked to bat in that kind of position and see whether he can replicate those kind of performances for India.”

With Rahul leading the side, India will have arguably their first-choice opening partner getting some game time but the rest of the top order is set to be experimental for this series. Asked about what the strike rate approach in the powerplay needs to be, Dravid said it has to be based on circumstances.

“We know our [regular] top three’s quality. They are top class. There will be a slightly different top three in this series but what we are looking for (in general) is good positive start and playing according to the situation,” Dravid said.

“If it’s a high-scoring game, then obviously you want your players to maintain the strike-rate. If wicket is more challenging, then they have to respond to that as well,” he added.

“In general, in T20 you want people to play positively and these people do that. As I said their roles might be slightly different to what we expect of them. We will be giving them a lot of clarity as to what their roles are. And I’m confident anyone in the top three will be able to play the role according to the situation of the match,” he added.