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ANALYSIS: What we should demand from Rahul Dravid as India's head coach

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Roar Guru
4th November, 2021

The din of the fireworks of the India versus Afghanistan World Cup match drowned the big news of Rahul Dravid’s appointment as the head coach of the Indian men’s cricket team.

The great cricketing minds of the world expect Rahul to bring in an overtly analytical approach to the game.

Is this right? Or should we be expecting something else?

Test cricket – Keep up the momentum and fill in the gaps
Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri have built a fantastic squad of Test players. Their attacking bowling focused approach to Test cricket has yielded excellent results, home and away.

Dravid should continue this approach. Currently, this bowling squad misses a wrist spinner and a left-arm fast bowler. Rahul should rejuvenate the Test career of Kuldeep Yadav. Apart from Kuldeep, Ravi Bishnoi is a wrist spinner who can graduate to Test cricket.

For the left-arm seamer position, Yarra Prithvi Raj of Andhra is an exciting prospect.

In the batting unit, Rahul must decide on Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara’s place in the team. They were not only in bad form in England; their batting contributions have been quite inconsistent over the past few years.

Rahul must thank Rahane and Pujara for their services and let go of them. India needs to groom and blood their pipeline of high-quality young batsmen like Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw, Washington Sundar, Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad et al.


Some of the finer aspects that Rahul must focus on are developing and including a left-handed top order batsman, improving the top order batsmen’s ability to play left arm fast bowlers, and improving the tailender’s run-scoring ability.

As far as the all-rounders, he should continue to invest in the overall growth of Hardik Pandya and Shardul Thakur.

Similarly, Rahul should focus on improving Axar Patel’s batting and Washington Sundar’s off-spin.

Rahul will need to groom a backup wicket keeper for Rishabh Pant. He has good options like Ishan Kishan, KS Bharat and Sanju Samson to groom.

The below is the pool of Test players that I hope will evolve under Rahul Dravid over the next five years:
Batters and wicket keepers: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Mayank Agrawal, Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devdutt Padikkal, Washington Sundar, Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan, KS Bharat

Bowlers and Bowling all-rounders: Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Ishant Sharma, Umran Malik, Yarra Prithviraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravi Bishnoi, Hardik Pandya, Shardul Thakur, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel.

White ball cricket: Shed the conservative batting approach and find wicket-taking bowlers
India hasn’t won a white ball ICC tournament for the past eight years. The specific reasons for each loss are varied, and an astute analyst may put them down as random. However, from the process perspective, particular areas show up glaringly in these failures.


From a general management perspective, Rahul must focus on playing only in-form players in ICC tournaments. Player performances in the IPL and near-term white-ball international matches must be the only criteria to select the squad.

Rahul should also reduce the number of three format players in T20 cricket and build T20 specialists. BCCI must allow these T20 specialists to travel the world and bring back best practices.

Over the next five years, I see that the style of play and approach to ODI cricket will move closer to T20 cricket.

The bowling composition will fully converge, and teams will play the same bowlers between the white-ball formats. The most significant difference between the team composition of ODI teams and T20 teams will be in the ratio of the anchor batsmen to power hitters.

(Photo by Michael Steele-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

I expect ODI teams to have a higher ratio of anchor batters to power hitters than T20 teams. Rahul Dravid must build his squad in line with this trend.

The Chennai Super Kings team composition for 2021 should be the template for Rahul. Rahul must build his white ball XI that comprises at least eight batting options and six bowling options.


As far as the batting is concerned, Rahul must build anchor and power-hitting batter’s pipeline. Indian grassroots seem to produce good anchor batters. However, it is power hitting that needs the deliberate focus of Rahul.

Rishabh Pant is the only 360-degree power hitter in the team. Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya are not in Pant’s league.

Rahul needs to identify and develop a pipeline of power hitters, apart from the trio, from Abdul Samad, Venkatesh Iyer, ShahRukh, Nitish Rana etc. Rahul needs to work with talent scouts to look for more power hitters as the inventory seems insufficient.

India’s two big problems are the lack of wicket taking “impact” bowlers in general and death bowling specific to ODI cricket. Due to the lack of impact bowlers, teams play out Jasprit Bumrah cautiously and target the rest.

At least for T20 cricket, Rahul needs to focus on developing “mystery” bowlers deliberately. He may need to work with domestic cricket administrators to see why India is unable to produce “mystery” spinners like Sri Lanka and West Indies. Over coaching at the lower levels might be a reason for some of these mutants getting lost.

While I expect the bowling composition to converge in white-ball cricket over the next few years, Rahul may have to utilise a few specialists like Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Thangarasu Natarajan, and Varun Chakravarthy in T20 cricket for the short term.

In addition to this list, a newcomer like Umran Malik and Yarra Prithviraj will be exciting additions to the pipeline. Some of these bowlers can graduate to bowling ten overs in ODI as well.


As far as ODI death bowling is concerned, Rahul will need to identify, groom and equip those like Harshal Patel or T.Natarajan to accompany Bumrah in those overs.

As far as the all-rounders, Rahul should prefer those who can power hit and bowl two to three economical overs in T20 and about five overs in ODI cricket.

This is a significant area of concern for India, and the options available are limited as well. Apart from Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya, who are already in the team, only Venkatesh Iyer has caught the attention. Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar have good batting skills, but they are not power hitters.

Rahul needs to help them build on their bowling skills and fit them into numbers eight and nine in the batting order.

As you can see, there are still inadequately addressed gaps in white-ball cricket. Rahul has to instruct the talent scouts to keep looking for power-hitting batters, all-rounders who can power hit, death bowling specialists and “mystery” spin bowlers.

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The below is the pool of ODI players I expect to evolve and expand under Rahul Dravid:
Batting and wicket keepers: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Surya Kumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Devdutt Padikal, Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant, Rahul Tripathi, KS Bharat, Sanju Samson, Venkatesh Iyer, Abdul Samad, Shah Rukh, Nitish Rana

Bowling and all-rounders: Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, T. Natarajan, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Umran Malik, Arshdeep Singh, Shardul Thakur, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Varun Chakravarthy, Deepak Chahar, Yarra Prithviraj.

Captains at different points in time: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Rishab Pant, Jasprit Bumrah