1st T20I: Rahul Dravid era begins with New Zealand series | Cricket News – Times of India

New coach Dravid and captain Rohit signal players-first approach ahead of first T20I against New Zealand
For all the muscle that Indian cricket has flaunted in the last few years, it strangely finds itself in a rebuilding phase a day ahead of the three-match T20I series against New Zealand. The series starts in Jaipur on Wednesday. Team India has oscillated between being outstanding and ordinary, and after a poor T20 World Cup campaign, they have hit a restart button.

New coach Rahul Dravid has long lived with a perception about him, that “whenever he is around, things will be fine”. Over time, it has become his aura. He has absorbed many shocks while batting for India and now he has to rebuild one more innings, this time as head coach.

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What if India and New Zealand played the T20 World Cup final last Sunday and then played a bilateral game again three days later? Such bizarre scheduling is possible by the BCCI only. Now that the series is on, one can only hope that the new players are given ample opportunities to showcase their wares before the 2022 T20 World Cup.

New full-time T20I captain Rohit Sharma, matching Dravid’s calm, sat next to him for the media briefing on the eve of the first T20I. There were no tall claims. Neither there was any defiance. Certainly, there was no mention of the ‘intent’ that the preceding leadership group was forever searching for.

“My job at the moment is to sit back and observe how the team runs. Every team has a different environment. There’s no rush,” was Dravid’s opening statement of the day. Unrufflable as ever, he added: “It’s an opportunity for me to learn and get to know the players and what they need.”

In his two-year term starting on Wednesday, Dravid will have three ICC championships across three formats as his assignment. Such is the cricket calendar these days that there is no breathing space.
If at all there was any definite hint about the team’s new “approach”, it was the fact that this is going to be a ‘players first’ regime. ‘Mental health’ and ‘security’ were the recurring topics as Dravid and Rohit spoke of their vision.

“We have to strike a balance. We want to win every game that we play for India. But can’t ignore the long-term picture as well. With the bubble on, we will think about players’ long-term careers. We will not prioritise short term results. One eye will always be on the future,” Dravid asserted.
“We need to be in conversation with the players. We need to respect a player’s physical and mental health… These are challenging times for players. It may take some time,” he said.

About rebuilding, Rohit has a clear philosophy: Longer rope and assurance for the players. “I think it is an important aspect of the format where people have that assurance of going in and taking those chances in the middle. If it comes off, it comes off, if it doesn’t then what happens? That’s where both of us will have to play a huge role in terms of giving that individual an assurance, you know, (of) going out and expressing himself,” he said.

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