In a candid remark, India’s head coach, Rahul Dravid, expressed concerns that the ongoing World Cup could turn into a pure batting spectacle, with teams potentially opting to “play two T20 matches” instead. Dravid’s comment came ahead of the much-anticipated clash between hosts India and fellow unbeaten team New Zealand, set to take place in the picturesque Himalayan town of Dharamsala.
This year’s 50-over cricket spectacle has witnessed a barrage of enormous scores, with South Africa notching up a record-breaking 428 – the highest total ever in a World Cup match. Furthermore, teams have surpassed the 350-run mark on three separate occasions during the tournament.
However, Dravid’s remarks hold weight as India secured crucial victories over Australia and Pakistan in Chennai and Ahmedabad, respectively, in relatively low-scoring contests. These performances led to the International Cricket Council (ICC) rating the pitches for these matches as “average,” in contrast to other venues which received higher marks of “good” and “very good.”
Addressing this issue, Dravid stated, “Sometimes wickets will turn a bit, sometimes they will seam a bit, they will swing a bit, they will bounce a bit,” emphasizing his disagreement with classifying wickets as “good” based solely on the sheer volume of runs scored.
The legendary batsman questioned, “So, in a tournament, I just want to see variety, no? But the first few games, when it spins a little bit or something happens, it brings the bowlers into the game, you start rating them as average! Where does it leave the bowlers? Why are they coming then? If all we want to see is fours — like I said — we have T20, play two T20 matches.”
Moreover, the World Cup has faced issues related to spectator turnout in matches not featuring the Indian team, raising concerns about the waning appeal of the 50-over format in comparison to the faster-paced T20 version.
As the anticipation builds for the upcoming India-New Zealand clash, Dravid acknowledged that India must perform at their best to overcome a formidable New Zealand side. Dravid pointed out that several New Zealand players have gained valuable experience from playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL), making them well-acquainted with the conditions.
Discussing New Zealand’s team, Dravid mentioned, “If you look at their squad, we were going through their squad and obviously doing our strategy meetings, and they do have a lot of experience and depth as well. They are well balanced.”
He continued, “So, yes, of course, a very good team and playing good cricket as well. So, we know we will have to be at our absolute best…but we are very confident.”
It’s worth noting that New Zealand holds a favorable head-to-head record against India in World Cup matches, including a significant semi-final victory in the 2019 World Cup.
However, India will miss the services of all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who sustained an ankle injury in their recent win against Bangladesh and did not travel with the team to Dharamsala. Dravid conceded that Pandya’s absence could affect the team’s balance, stating, “Yeah, obviously, he is an important player for us and he is an important all-rounder. We will have to see what works best for these conditions and these wickets. But yeah, probably might not have the kind of balance that we probably used in the first four games.”