High-flying India were handed a reality check with a 2-3 series defeat against Australia at home in the bilateral One-Day International series and the setback should act as a warning sign for Virat Kohli and his men going into the upcoming World Cup as one of the favourites, said captain Rahul Dravid.
India led 2-0 in the five-match series, but lost the last three to the reigning World Cup champions to lose an ODI series under Kohli’s captaincy for the first time in home soil. These games were the last of the 50-over format for India going into the World Cup commencing on May 30 in England.
“I think there was a bit of notion that we are going walk there and win the World Cup easily. So its a good thing that has happened. What it has (the outcome against Australia) reminded us is that we have to play the World Cup very, very well,” said Dravid.
He was speaking at a launch event organised by ESPNCricinfo along with his former India teammate Sanjay Manjrekar here on Wednesday.
“In a way I think its a good balancing factor. India has performed well in the last couple of years. There was a little bit of talk that we are almost going to walk in there and win the World Cup very easily because we are the No. 1 team and we have been dominating one-day cricket for the last couple of years,” said Dravid, India’s current under 19 and A team coach.
“But I don’t find anything strange from my perspective watching the series. I still feel that we are going to be one of the favourites. But its going to be tough. Its going to be competitive,” he added.
Both Dravid and Manjrekar also answered queries on the much-talked about work load factor in the Indian Premier League starting on March 23 for some key players, who are expected to make the World Cup squad, such as Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya.
All rounder Pandya is coming off a lower back injury layoff that forced him to miss the matches against Australia at home.
“Most players are smart about these things. They know how to handle their body. I don’t think the players would put their body on the line. I was reading Patrick Cummins (Australia pacer) saying that he feels better bowling when he is constantly playing rather than having rested and coming back,” Dravid said.
“So to each player, it’s different. There cannot be a blanket case that all should be rested. We have to just trust the players. They know what needs to be done,” he opined.
Manjrekar was even more forthright and said the Cricket Board should not put pressure on IPL franchises to rest some players in view of the following World Cup.
“My views wont be appreciated. This is free enterprise. IPL is capitalism at its best. I don’t think there should be any outside interference. It should be up to the franchises. Don’t think there should be pressure (on IPL franchises) from the Cricket Board (BCCI) (to rest some players),” the former Test batsman turned TV commentator remarked.
(With PTI inputs)