But international cricket continues and India’s next assignment is already round the corner – a full tour of the West Indies including three T20s, three ODIs and two Tests starting August 3.
The Indian squad was supposed to be announced on Friday but last-minute administrative issues and delay in receiving fitness reports meant a two-day delay. As things stand, the Indian team will be picked on Sunday and there are three major issues that the selectors will address:
MS Dhoni’s future
Ever since veteran keeper MS Dhoni failed to take the team past the finish in the World Cup semi-final loss to New Zealand, speculation over his future was rife with some expecting his immediate retirement.
Even during the World Cup, legends like Sachin Tendulkar questioned the intent of Dhoni while batting, with the veteran gloveman’s slow yet steady approach looking increasingly out of place. With his successor Rishabh Pant already in the playing XI, it will be interesting to see what decision the selectors and Virat Kohli take. Or Dhoni himself drops a bombshell on Sunday?
Rest to key players
Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and Mohammed Shami are among the key all-format India players who have played almost non-stop in the last few months and the selectors will look to ensure their their top players don’t push themselves beyond breaking point.
There were reports that Kohli and Bumrah might sit out the entire tour but that is unlikely to happen. What’s more, Kohli might end up playing all three legs of the tour and not share the captaincy with Rohit Sharma, as was speculated.
Test bench strength
The selectors need to a take a call regarding some of the older players in the Indian set-up. With those on the bench – like batsman Shubman Gill, all-rounder Krunal Pandya and quick Navdeep Saini – putting in consistent performances, maybe it is time to given them a greater run in two formats.
It also means the next generation of Indian players might get a chance to not only keep the established seniors on their toes, but even take their position.
In the Test team, the return of Wriddhiman Saha as keeper makes for another interesting scenario as Pant has become the main Test keeper despite his form being the wicket not deemed good enough for 50 overs cricket.
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Former India captain Rahul Dravid was appointed as head of the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru, which will see the legendary batsman monitor the development of next generation of Indian players and support staff.
Dravid has already achieved remarkable success as coach of India U19 and ‘A’ teams, playing a major hand in the development of players like Hardik Pandya and Prithvi Shaw, among others.
The former batting star has now been given a bigger platform by the BCCI to streamline player and support staff development on the lines of the structures in England and Australia.
The Indian board, in a statement, said: “Mr. Dravid will oversee all cricket related activities at NCA and will be involved in mentoring, coaching, training and motivating players, coaches and support staff at the NCA.
“Mr. Dravid will also work closely with the national men’s and women’s head coaches and coaches for developmental teams – including India A, India Under 19, India Under 23 teams, in the identification of key training and development objectives.”
According to ESPNcricinfo, the BCCI wants Dravid to “chart a pathway and structure for young talent to flourish” and convert the academy into a high-performance centre. According to reports, Dravid will delegate some of his coaching responsibilities owing to the increased workload. He is also “expected to create a programme for the development of physiotherapists and strength and conditioning coaches”.
Former Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal said Indian selectors should have picked hard-hitting Rishabh Pant purely as a batsman for the 2019 World Cup.
The non-selection of Pant created a furore in India as he can not only hit the long ball but also offers variety as a left-handed batsman. However, Indian selectors went with the experienced Dinesh Karthik as back-up wicketkeeper for veteran MS Dhoni while picking Vijay Shankar as the No4 batsman.
Ajmal said Pant has brought about a new energy in the Indian team and should have been picked for the 50-over tournament.
“India have a strong bench. Pant is a very good batsman. He has been batting very well in the IPL,” Ajmal told Sport360.
“He has brought new life in the Indian team. Pant should have been picked as a batsman. But the selectors must have spotted some weakness,” the off-spinner said at King’s School Al Barsha in Dubai on Friday where his Saeed Ajmal International Cricket Academy played the Kings’ Cricket Academy.
Ajmal, who picked hosts England and New Zealand as two dangerous teams at the World Cup, said Pakistan need to put in extra effort to defeat India in the much-awaited June 16 World Cup clash. The men in green have never defeated India in six World Cup games.
“I will never talk about the past, always look at the future. Ok, Pakistan haven’t beaten India before. They will need to put in extra effort as India are a very good team. Good luck to both teams,” he added.