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Gaikwad is a quality player; don't judge him by a couple of poor games: Dravid

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Bengaluru, June 20 (Ajit Weekly News) India chief coach Rahul Dravid has said that he is not “disappointed with anyone” as he reviewed the team’s performance in five-match T20I series against South Africa, adding that while Shreyas Iyer showed a lot of intent, Ruturaj Gaikwad’s innings in the third game at Visakhapatnam showed what a quality player he is.

Dravid also indicated that he will continue to give underperformers more opportunities as he is not someone who will “judge people after one series”.

India ended the series against South Africa on equal terms after the fifth and final game here was washed out due to rain.

“I don’t like to judge people after one series. Everyone who got the opportunity truly deserved it. In this format, you are going to have some good and bad games. Shreyas (Iyer) showed a lot of intent and played positively for us, Ruturaj (Gaikwad) showed in one particular innings the quality and skill he has got, and in T20s, you can have the odd game where it goes up and down a little bit. So, we are not disappointed with anyone,” said Dravid.

Gaikwad, after performing exceptionally well for his franchise Chennai Super Kings in IPL 2021, was a bit off-colour in the IPL 2022 season, one of the reasons why the MS Dhoni-led side finished a lowly ninth this season after the high of winning the title last year.

While Gaikwad’s showing was patchy in the T20I series against South Africa, he played a match-defining innings of 57 (35 balls) in the third game at Visakhapatnam, which started India’s comeback after being down 0-2.

Dravid also said that he was happy with the attacking brand his boys played, adding that he was very clear in his mind about the way he wanted the team to play its cricket.

“As a group, we were looking to play a positive and attacking brand of cricket. And, when you try and do that at times, it is not always going to come off. But we are certainly clear about the kind of cricket we want to play,” said Dravid.

The head coach also said that Rishabh Pant is a young and growing leader and will continue to be an integral part of the Indian side going forward.

“To bring a team back from 0-2 down and to level it at 2-2 and give us a chance to win was good. Captaincy is not about wins and losses only. He (Pant) is a young captain, growing as a leader. It is too early to judge him and you don’t want to do that after one series.”

“It was nice to see he has got opportunities to lead, keep, and bat. He had a lot of load on him but gaining from that experience and credit to him for ensuring that we went from 0-2 down to 2-2. I just don’t want to be critical. In the middle overs, you need people to play slightly attacking brand of cricket, to take the game on a little more. Sometimes it’s very hard to judge based on two or three games,” said Dravid.

“I think he had a pretty good IPL in terms of strike-rate even though it might not have looked good on averages. In IPL, he looked to move up a little bit (in terms of the batting average) and probably three years ago he was on those numbers. We are hoping that we can get those numbers from him at the international level.

“In the process, he might go wrong in a few games but he remains an integral part of our batting line-up with the power he has and the fact that he is a left-hander is important to us in the middle overs, he played some good knocks,” stated the head coach.

–Ajit Weekly News

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