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'We will demand big performances:' Dravid reflects on dismal SA tour

'K.L. Rahul is growing and will get better as a captain'

PTI11_17_2021_000270B Indian team head coach Rahul Dravid with Ravichandran Ashwin after winning their first T20 match against New Zealand | PTI

He is all for stability and security but India head coach Rahul Dravid says players will also have to deliver "really big performances" to justify the long rope given to them as he reflected on all that went wrong during a dismal tour of South Africa. 

India lost the Test series 1-2 and were hammered 0-3 in the ODIs, outplayed by a team in transition which is also battling several off-field issues, including an ongoing inquiry into alleged racial discrimination.

Dravid did not take names but when he spoke about demanding performances in lieu of security and extended run given to some middle-order batters, he obviously meant Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant.

"We certainly want to give them that consistency and we want to give them that security," he said in a reassuring tone in the press conference after the third ODI, which India stunningly lost by four runs on Sunday.

But then came the rider. 

"...and once you give them that consistency and security, you have also got to demand performances, really big performances and that is an expectation you have when you play at this level, when you play for your country, you have to put in big performances and that's a requirement," he made it clear.

"But the idea is to give as much stability as you can."

He also said that people like Shreyas need to put their hand up and perform considering that there is so much competition for slots. He managed scores of 17, 11 and 26 during the series, failing to make an impact.

"Whether you bat 4, 5 or 6, you have got to know what the team's requirements are. Shreyas has gone in pretty early in all three games and he has had enough time (out there in the middle)," Dravid pointed out. 

"We know guys have done well and we would like to back them as much as possible. Sometimes they would have good tours and sometimes, it won't be possible, that's just the way it is. 

"Obviously, there tends to be a lot of competition, people pushing for places and its not easy in that kind of a situation," he said.

'KL did a good job'

Dravid's assessment of his namesake's leadership skills was pretty lavish as he wanted people to factor in that he could only do as much with the kind of squad he had at his disposal.

"I thought he did a good job. Not easy to be on the wrong side of the result. He is just starting out as captain," he said.

".....and he will learn and a large part of captaincy is the execution of skills by your players and quality of side you have got. We were a little bit short on the ODI side of things and I thought he did a very decent job, someone who is growing and will constantly be improving and get better as a captain."

Lot of options at No 6

Dravid was clear about one thing and that's Venkatesh Iyer will have to fit himself in the middle-order if he wants to play white-ball cricket for India.

Venkatesh, who made a stunning entry into the national side on the basis of half an IPL and that too opening the innings for KKR, the Indian top-order is all but set, indicated head coach.

"Idea is to develop people like Venkatesh Iyer as sixth bowling option. Whether it's Venkatesh or whether it's Hardik when he potentially comes back and we have got option of someone like a Jadeja, who can potentially bat at No 6 in certain times when he is back, that will give us a lot more options," Dravid hinted.

He made it clear that Venkatesh has been communicated his role in the team.

"It can happen if you are the sixth bowler in a team, you are not required to bowl. We have been clear with him that in our team with a number of options we have, he has batted at the top of the order for KKR, in our team we are looking at No 6, someone who can be that sixth bowling option.

"...and that was the kind of role we had for him over here, we have quite a few options at the top of the order and when someone like Rohit comes back, there aren't too many spots open in 1, 2 or 3." 

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