Team India is currently on the tour of New Zealand for three T20Is and as many ODIs under new captains and coaching staff. Regular skipper Rohit Sharma, top-order batters Virat Kohli and KL Rahul, head coach Rahul Dravid and his support staff have all been rested from this tour after the recently-concluded T20 World Cup in Australia.
In Rohit’s absence, Hardik Pandya is leading the Indian team in T20Is and Shikhar Dhawan will take over the responsibility in ODIs. VVS Laxman and his support staff of Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Sairaj Bahutule has taken over the coaching duties from Dravid and Co.
In the meantime, Ravichandran Ashwin has jumped to the defence of his coach Dravid after cricketer-turned-commentator Ravi Shastri criticized him for taking a break from the ongoing New Zealand tour.
Highlighting the physical and mental strain that Dravid and his support staff has been under since they began building up to the 2022 T20 World Cup, Ashwin said: “I will explain why Laxman has gone there with a completely different team because even that could be interpreted differently,” Ashwin said on his YouTube channel.
“Rahul Dravid and his team put in extensive hard work ahead of the T20 World Cup – right from planning. Since I saw this from close quarters, I’m saying this.
“They had specific in-depth plans for each venue and each opposition. So they would have been under not only mental but also physical burnout, and everyone needed a break. As soon as the New Zealand series ends, we have the Bangladesh tour. That’s why we have a different coaching staff led by Laxman for this tour.”
India reached the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup after winning four out of five group matches, but got thrashed by eventual champions England in the knockout game.
Ashwin acknowledged the fact of fans being disappointed and stated that no excuse can take the feeling away. However, he urged the fans to appreciate the effort made by the Indian team to qualify for the semis.
“Everyone would have felt bad seeing Team India not win the tournament or reach the final. I agree, it would have been shattering. I don’t think any excuse will make you forget it. Definitely, it is a disappointing moment. But we all have to move on,” added Ashwin.
“We can’t call it a disappointing campaign. We lost in the semi-finals. Reaching the semi-finals and finals can be considered an achievement. But from an Indian fan’s point of view, and the expectations they have of this team, I totally understand the disappointment from the fans. But we players are at least 200-300 times more disappointed than what you all went through.”