Dravid provides crucial update on India squad availability for first WC warm-up match vs England: 'By Friday morning...'
Rahul Dravid spoke in detail about the squad absences in the final ODI vs Australia and provided an update on player-availability for the WC warm-up game.
Australia delivered their best performance of the series in the final ODI match as India's middle-order crumbled under pressure, thanks to Glenn Maxwell's part-time off-spin, resulting in a 66-run loss on Wednesday. India, however, secured the lead after the side had already taken a 2-0 lead going into the final game in Rajkot. India appeared to be on a smooth path to victory at 171/2 while chasing a challenging target of 353 on a flat pitch; however, the middle-order faltered during the chase, with Maxwell's impressive figures of 4/40 providing crucial breakthroughs. India ultimately finished at 286 in 49.4 overs.
Captain Rohit Sharma (81) and Virat Kohli (56 off 61 balls) – both returning for the match – scored half-centuries, setting the stage for a strong middle-order performance. However, the rest of the batting lineup struggled, giving Australia the upper hand. India were also hurt with a long list of absences, with a number of players not available due to viral infection as well as personal reasons. While the likes of Shubman Gill, Hardik Pandya, Shardul Thakur, and Mohammed Shami were not available, Ishan Kishan was also ruled out on the day of the match due to illness. Additionally, Axar Patel is already away from action after an injury sustained during the Asia Cup earlier this month.
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With World Cup around the corner, it is justifiably not an ideal situation for players to remain unavailable but the side's head coach, Rahul Dravid cleared the air over the absences, insisting that a ‘full-strength’ side should be available ahead of India's opening warm-up match against England later this week.
“We have had a few issues with viral going around the group. It was a bit of a balancing act, especially because few guys had to go home due to personal reasons. There was a team leaving for the Asian Games tonight, so some of the guys like Rutu (Ruturaj Gaikwad) and Tilak (Varma) had to go. So, it was a bit of a jugglery that we had to manage in this game,” Dravid said in the post-match press conference.
“But no, I'm hoping we have got about a week. I expect everyone to be there in Guwahati when we reach tomorrow, latest by tomorrow night or the morning the next day, we should be full strength. The bug around the group should've cleared up as well. Be nice if that happens,” said Dravid further.
India's campaign starts October 8
India will face England on September 30 before facing Netherlands on October 3. The side kickstarts its campaign in tournament proper on 8th against Australia at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.
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