The top Indian stars might be busy with the IPL, but head coach Rahul Dravid and his team will assemble at the National Cricket Academy on Tuesday to start preparations for the World Test Championship final in June. India will meet Australia at the Oval from June 7-11 for their second consecutive appearance in a World Test Championship final.
With injuries to key first team players like pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, middle-order batter Shreyas Iyer and the main overseas match-winner Rishabh Pant, there are a lot of issues to be addressed ahead of the big final. The workload management aspect also needs to be looked at, keeping the ODI World Cup in mind.
“Dravid, along with batting coach Vikram Rathour, bowling coach Paras Mhambrey, fielding coach T Dilip and the other support staff will be meeting the NCA team headed by VVS Laxman to discuss various issues related to senior team,” a BCCI source, privy to development told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
Laxman, as the head of NCA, is not only overseeing the rehabilitation module of centrally contracted injured players under the aegis of Sports Science and Medicine team but at the same time is responsible for tracking the progress of ‘Targeted’ players (India, India A) as well as the Emerging Players (aged between 19 and 23).
It is expected that both Dravid and Laxman, along with their respective teams, would extensively discuss workload management and the plans about preparation for the final.
It is there to be seen whether Head of Sports Science Nitin Patel encounters any tough questions about regular breakdown of players, who are coming back after extensive rehabilitation. Case in point will be Iyer (red ball) and Deepak Chahar (white ball).
Most of the IPL franchises have confirmed to PTI that there has been no written communication from the BCCI to them on workload management of fast bowlers during the event.
The five pacers, who are certain to make the main WTC squad list, if fully fit, are Mohammed Shami (GT), Umesh Yadav (KKR), Mohammed Siraj (RCB), Shardul Thakur (KKR) and Jaydev Unadkat (LSG).
A noted coach, who has been a key support staff member of the Indian cricket team, accepted that it is a problem.
“If June 7 is the start of WTC final, currently all the Indian pacers need to bowl at least 200 deliveries (33 overs approximately) per week (7 days). That’s how you build the miles (in simple words stamina) in your legs,” he said, “But in IPL, the main star bowlers would hardly come for each and every training session. You will mostly see them getting rest a day before the game as one day before that, there is travelling.
“The heavy travelling part actually can cause more injuries and hence they won’t be able to bowl in training,” the former coach said.
Skipper Rohit Sharma had said after the Australia series that all first team bowlers would be given red Dukes ball and if anyone wants, they can train with it.
Lack of good quality practice game
With English county season on and WTC being an ICC event, even if IPL team members, who don’t qualify for play-offs, leave early for UK, they can only play intra-squad matches amongst themselves.
Even if BCCI requests ECB to put up a scratch squad, it will be mostly rookies or players from minor county, as the main sides will not release any player for a warm-up game.
How to get quality net training and also match practice ahead of the game will be a concern for BCCI.
Also the kind of net bowlers that will be picked alongside bowlers in main squad. Navdeep Saini, Avesh Khan, Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti are some of the bowlers expected to travel with team.
Ajinkya Rahane is back in contention
After a a decent domestic season in which he scored 600 plus runs, former India captain Ajinkya Rahane is believed to be very much in contention for a place in the squad of 15 as Iyer is set to undergo back surgery.
There is one slot vacant in the Indian middle-order and Suryakumar Yadav hasn’t exactly set the IPL stage on fire.
With KS Bharat’s batting technique not suitable in seaming and swinging conditions of UK, there could be a case for KL Rahul donning big gloves and playing in the middle-order.
But the place vacated by Iyer needs to be filled and it seems that Rahane, with his 82 Test experience and near 5000 runs (4931 runs), gives that assurance even though he had a near three year lean patch in the traditional format.