In the build-up to South Africa’s Tour of India that consists of five T20Is, head coach Rahul Dravid clarified that the upcoming series would be another opportunity for the India management to test the bench strength and identify the group of players that will board the flight to Australia for the T20 World Cup in October.
After India’s four-wicket loss to South Africa at Cuttack, Odisha that saw them trail 2-0 in the five match series, Shreyas Iyer reiterated that despite the back-to-back losses, their plan remains to use these games to prepare for the World event.
“Our main aim is obviously the World Cup, so we have to see to it that we plan towards it,” Iyer said in the post-match press conference.
“We have that sort of mindset where we are completely free and not thinking about anything else. These are the actual games where we can practise what we were lacking in the past. That’s what we keep discussing in the team meetings as well.
“No matter what happens, whatever plans we discuss in the team meeting, we have to execute those. Even if we fail, we will learn from that and grow as players and grow as a team. So that’s more important till we reach Australia.”
Although one of the strategies in the preparation that did not result in fruition was the Indian batters’ attacking approach on a pitch less than ideal for batting, the team seems determined in their plans. The tactic was also on show in the first T20I, when essentially all Indian batters swung their bats to put up a score of 211 for 4 in the first innings.
“We have made this plan that we will keep going no matter what happens,” Iyer said. “Even if we keep losing wickets, it’s our gameplan and in the future too, we will go in with the same mindset. We will back ourselves and back our instincts.”
In the second T20I, Dinesh Karthik, who was involved in several rescue acts in the Indian Premier League that resulted in him getting an India call-up after three years, came in the fourteenth over after India had been reduced to 94 for 5. On the entry point of Karthik, Iyer clarified that his role will be confined to being reserved for the last five overs.
“It’s definitely something we have strategised earlier as well. We had seven overs left and Axar Patel is someone who can take singles, who can keep rotating the strike. And we didn’t require someone to come in and start hitting from ball one at that point of time.”
“Even DK [Karthik] can do that obviously, but DK has been a really good asset for us after 15 overs where he can come and straightaway slog the ball. Even he found it difficult to start well today. Obviously, the wicket played a huge role in today’s game, but we will be using this strategy in the next games as well.”
Talking about the wicket, Iyer reckoned that 160 would have been a par score and claimed that batting conditions were tricky and that despite playing a 35-ball stay at the crease, he couldn’t figure out how the pitch was behaving.
“I tried everything out there, but it was really difficult, especially for the new batsman to come in and get going,” Iyer said. “The ball was staying low from one end and from the other end, there was variable bounce and the ball was seaming.”