Team India head coach Rahul Dravid has hinted that the Men in Blue are unlikely to make any changes to their playing XI for their last 2023 World Cup league game against the Netherlands on Sunday. He pointed out that the players have had a week’s rest and also added that this is the only game they play before the semi-finals.

India hammered South Africa by 243 runs in their last league game in Kolkata on November 5. Irrespective of the result of Sunday’s match, they will finish on top of the points table. Dravid, though, ruled out the possibility of players being rested.

At a press conference ahead of the India vs Netherlands clash at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, the Indian coach commented:

“I mean, honestly, we’ve had six days off from the last game. So, we’re pretty well rested. We’ve got one game before the semifinal, and the guys are in good shape. That’s all I’ll say without giving away much.”

On whether Prasidh Krishna, who has come in as an injury replacement for Hardik Pandya, could get a chance in case he’s needed in the knockouts, the former India captain replied:

“So now at this stage, it’s about just focusing on getting the guys who you think are going to be playing in the XI in the best possible space mentally and physically, to be able to play that semi-final and, hopefully, the final if we earn it. So that will be the single-pointed thinking.”

Pandya hurt his ankle while trying to stop a ball in the follow-through during India’s game against Bangladesh in Pune on October 19.

“Our middle order has played very critical roles” – Dravid

While captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have dominated the run charts, Dravid acknowledged the role of the middle order in India’s World Cup success.

Pointing out that numbers do not narrate the entire story, the Indian legend termed the 30s and 40s scored by the middle-order batters as critical.

“Yeah, it’s terrific. I answered this question if I remember in Chennai. I said middle-orders are going to be very, very important in a tournament like this. How well your middle-order performs in sometimes very tricky conditions and challenging situations under pressure is actually going to probably decide how well you do,” the 50-year-old said.

“While our top-order also performed exceptionally well, I think our middle-order has played very critical roles. Sometimes you can’t judge them by sheer numbers… That only gives you one half of the picture, but it’s actually some of those 30s, 40s, [have been] critical knocks,” Dravid concluded.

Kohli (543 runs) is India’s leading run-getter, third overall, in the 2023 World Cup, while Rohit has smashed 442 runs in eight innings.

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Edited by Renin Wilben Albert


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