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Updated February 5th, 2024 at 19:27 IST

When is Virat Kohli coming back to play for India? Rahul Dravid responds to million-dollar question

On Virat Kohli’s availability for the Rajkot Test, Rahul Dravid left that on to the selectors. Kohli missed the first two games due to personal reasons.

KL Rahul with Virat Kohli and Rahul Dravid
KL Rahul with Virat Kohli and Rahul Dravid | Image:AP
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India head coach Rahul Dravid on Monday said the team management does not ask for rank turners while playing at home and it is tough to predict how a particular pitch would play out over the course of five days in a Test.

The previous series against England in 2021 and against Australia last year were played on raging turners with most games ending within three days. However, the first two Tests against England in the ongoing series have gone on for four days.

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While Hyderabad was a slow turner, Vizag surface remained flat for the major part of the match.

Dravid is someone who is regular with his pitch inspections before and during the game and a lot of times in between sessions as well.

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His longtime teammate Sourav Ganguly recently said that India don’t need to play on rank turners as they have a well balanced bowling attack.

Asked if more pitches like Vizag could be seen in the next three Tests, Dravid said he was clueless on the subject like anybody else.

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“Curators make the pitches. We don't ask for rank turners. Obviously tracks in India would spin, how much they'll spin, how less they'll spin, how much. I'm not an expert, obviously, wickets in India in the course of four or five days, they do turn but how much they're going to turn.

“I sometimes get told they'll turn on the third day, but they turn on the first day. Sometimes I get told they'll turn on the second day and they don't turn till day four," Dravid said.

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"So I'm sometimes as clueless as anybody else. We look at the wicket and we try and do the best we can on what we get. We go to Rajkot, we'll see what we can get and play with whatever we get in front of.” Indian batters have been guilty of throwing away their starts in the series. There were three 80s in the series opener and only Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill played big knocks in Vizag while others failed to cash on to their starts.

Dravid said India could have scored more runs in both the innings and he expects more consistency from the younger crop.

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“If I'm being honest, I think we left a few runs on the board in both the innings. Again, I think, that's maybe a function of the fact that we do have a lot of young batsmen coming through, I think still figuring out Test cricket a little bit, but you don't have a lot of time to figure out Test cricket.

“Certainly in the first innings, 396, I thought, was underpowered, we left 75 on the board. You win a toss, you have one guy who gets a double hundred. You should be pushing 475-450 in these conditions.

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"And then in the second innings, maybe after losing a couple of wickets, 250 was probably about par. So, it's a work in progress. We'll hopefully get a little bit better and we'll keep improving,” said the coach.

‘England’s batting is not about wild slogging’ 

Dravid praised England’s uber-aggressive batting approach, also known as Bazball, and said he always expected a tough series. Both teams go into the third Test in Rajkot at 1-1.

“They (England) are playing very well. Whether you call it bazball or whatever you call it. I'm not sure how happy they are about it, but they are playing really good cricket. Let's be honest, they played well, they've shown good skills. it's not like wild slogging," said Dravid.

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“They are actually showing some very good skills. Some of the shots they are playing require a lot of skill and ability. You can't just come there and execute those things and just say, well, I want to play attackingly and not have the skills to execute it.

“So, I think there's more to it than just attacking cricket. I've seen at times they know when to pull back, when to attack. So they're playing slightly differently, no doubt about it, but they've been very successful and they're playing it well. We know we're up against the challenge and we're looking forward to it,” he said.

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'Gill’s work ethic is exemplary' 

The head coach was happy for Shubman Gill, who got back among the runs with a fine hundred in the second innings. It was his first 50-plus score in 13 innings and also the first time he logged in big runs at number three.

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“He (Gill) came into the Test match under pressure externally, internally, we have a lot of confidence in Shubman. We know his class and his ability. We've seen how good a player he's been. Even in this lean run. He's actually the one who's got us 100 at Chittagong. He got 100 in Ahmedabad. So we know that quality.

“As a young player from whom a lot is expected, he did feel the pressure. So really happy with the way he played that image. It required him to soak in a lot of pressure at various times. He is someone who's desperate to succeed in all the three formats of the game.” On Virat Kohli’s availability for the Rajkot Test, Dravid left that on to the selectors. Kohli missed the first two games due to personal reasons.

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“It's best to ask for selectors once the team will be selected for the next three games. I'm sure they're the best people to answer that.” PTI BS PDS PDS

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Published February 5th, 2024 at 19:27 IST

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