'Selectors don't pick you to be on holiday': Rahul Dravid says players chosen in squad good enough to represent India
With as many as nine players in isolation, India were forced to play their remaining 11 players in the second T20I against Sri Lanka in Colombo. The impact of Covid-19 on the Indian team was such that the team management had no other choice left. The belief was that at some point, most of the uncapped youngsters who had been picked in India's squad, would get a chance – similar to what happened in the third ODI, but the circumstances were such that those opportunities came a bit earlier.
On Wednesday, India handed T20I debuts to Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Nitish Rana and Chetan Sakariya, with India coach Rahul Dravid stressing on the importance of viewing fringe players as options good enough to represent India. There have been a lot of outside noise about too many players getting rewarded with India caps but the India coach refuted any such belief and asserted that anyone who is picked in the squad, is fit to represent India in its 11.
"After we wrapped up the ODI series, we tried to give a few people a chance. Obviously, circumstances here have forced us to do it here even before we managed to win the series. But I truly believe that if you're selected to play for India – whether it's 15 players or 20 players – you're good enough to play in the XI. I don't really think that the selectors select you in the 15 just to warm the bench or for a holiday," Dravid told the broadcaster ahead of the start of the 2nd T20I in Colombo.
None of the debutants, however, managed to grab the golden opportunity on a sluggish Colombo pitch as India lost the nail-biting contest by 4 wickets. The series is now locked at 1-1 with the decider on Thursday.
"Certainly, that's not the message I have been given. I look at the squad, the 20 guys who are here, each of them has got here through sheer weight of performances. It's not easy in India. People earn the right to come here. It's not everytime that we're going to give everyone a chance here but it’s really nice to be able to give as many as you can."
Dravid believes the players who are in the squad have earned the right to do so. As it turns out, all five players, who ahead of the start of the Sri Lanka series, would have played at least one game by the time the series is over, but contrary to the belief, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, insists Dravid.
"They are earning their India caps. I don't get that argument. Like I said, if you're selected in a team of 15 – with Covid now it's become 20, you are selected keeping in mind that you may need to play in the 11 at any given point of time. You have certainly earned the right to get that cap. It’s up to you to take that opportunity and perform. I truly believe everyone who’s here has earned it," he added.