Rahul Dravid reckons that India have narrowed down "17-18 players" for the forthcoming ODI World Cup at home, regardless of the result in the bilateral series decider against Australia at Chepauk on Wednesday. For India, the third match against Australia is their last ODI until the tour of the Caribbean in August, and they may only have three more in India before the World Cup begins.
"I think, to a large extent, we are pretty clear about the squad and players we want," Dravid said at a press conference. "We have almost sort of narrowed it down to 17-18 players. We have a few guys who are sort of recovering from injuries and might come into the mix, depending on the timeframe of their recoveries and how long it takes for them to come back.
"But all in all, we are pretty much in a good space, we are pretty clear about the kind of team we want to play. Hopefully, we are able to give these guys who we have zeroed in as many playing opportunities as we can. If in India, great, but even if not in India, it's just [a matter of ensuring that] they get as many opportunities as you can [give them] to build a side."
Dravid, though, suggested that the team management was open to trying out different combinations and adopting a horses-for-courses approach even during the World Cup in October-November. The course in Chennai on Wednesday is likely to be spin-friendly, but India's spin combination is a bit of a guessing game, with all of Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar in the mix.
"Within our 15 or 16 players, there are a couple of different combinations that we'd like to try and see which one's working," Dravid said. "It [World Cup] is a big tournament, it's a long tournament in India, and we are playing in nine different cities and nine different conditions. So you just want to have that flexibility in your squad as well, to be able to play sometimes four fast bowlers, sometimes three spinners. Just you want to have that flexibility. Within the squad we'd like to sort of look at different options, just to ensure that we have covered all our bases for all conditions.
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"To a large extent, I think we have got a lot more clarity at the end of these nine games, irrespective of whatever happens tomorrow. I think we will just keep building on that clarity. We are quite clear about the kind of squad we want. For us now, it's really just about the different playing XI combinations and just ensuring that we play different combinations at times just to ensure that we are able to do that in the World Cup and we are not surprised by anything in the World Cup."
Dravid 'not really concerned so much about Suryakumar'
Dravid shrugged off any concerns around the recent form of Suryakumar Yadav, who bagged ducks in the first two ODIs against Australia and only averages 25.47 across 20 innings in ODI cricket. He said that Suryakumar was still adjusting to the tempo of 50-over cricket, and backed him to get better with experience.
"Not really concerned so much about Suryakumar," Dravid said. "He got two first-ballers against two pretty good balls. One of the things about Surya is he is also learning the 50-over game a little bit. The T20 game is slightly different.
"Even though he hadn't played for India for a long time, in T20 cricket, he played nearly ten years of IPL, and a lot of IPL cricket, which is a tournament which is like international cricket. He has played a lot of high-pressure T20 games but in one-day cricket, there's no equivalent tournament in domestic cricket, you'll have to play Vijay Hazare [Trophy] and all that. Even though he has played a lot of T20 cricket, I think he has not played a lot of one-day cricket. We just need to give him some time and be patient with him. We certainly see the upside of him doing well, which is very good for the side."