India head coach Rahul Dravid along with members of the support staff have opted to take a break from the Ireland T20Is as a gruelling second-half of 2023 beckons.
Team India is back to playing continuous cricket after almost a break of one month in action post the World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia. The team is currently in West Indies in the middle of a two-match Test series against the home team. After the tussle in the longest format of the sport, the two teams will lock horns against each other in a three-match ODI and five-match T20I series.
An action-packed calendar follows for the Indian team from August, with the 50-over Asia Cup acting as a preparatory tournament for the World Cup later this year at home. After the Windies tour and the Asia Cup, India will play a three-match T20I series against Ireland.
Keeping in mind the might of the rivals and the hectic schedule ahead, the Board of Control for India (BCCI) has decided to give some rest to Rahul Dravid and his support staff. According to a report in Cricbuzz, the workload of the support staff is also being taken care of in the last couple of years.
If the reports are to be believed, Dravid, batting coach Vikram Rathour and bowling coach Paras Mhambrey will return to India after the conclusion of the five-match T20I series between India and West Indies. India’s tour of the West Indies is set to conclude on August 13.
Team India is then set to tour Ireland for the three-match T20I series starting on August 18. In the absence of the main support staff, members of the National Cricket Academy (NCA) staff will be handling the responsibilities.
VVS Laxman to stand in for Rahul Dravid
Former India cricketer VVS Laxman, currently the head of the NCA, is likely to be the head coach of the team for the Ireland tour. The batting coach will be decided among Sitanshu Kotak and Hrishikesh Kanitkar while either of Troy Cooley or Sairaj Bahutule will be appointed the bowling coach for the tour.
This is not the first time that Rahul Dravid and the support staff have been rested from their duties. They were rested after the T20 World Cup last year as well, taking a break from the white-ball series against New Zealand that followed.
The entire staff gets a rest of two months during the Indian Premier League (IPL) as well. To avoid conflict of interest, none of the members associated with Team India are allowed to link up with any of the IPL franchises.
This will not be the first time that Laxman will be in charge of the Indian team either. He took up the coaching duties last year during the Ireland tour as well. The Indian team, with the big stars, were touring England at the time, and a squad of younger players were picked to travel to Ireland, to give them exposure. The senior team stayed behind in England to recuperate after the fifth Test last year and gear up for the ODI series.
As far as the Ireland tour is concerned, a second-string Indian side is likely to be picked for the three T20Is led by Hardik Pandya again. Nothing has been made official yet but it is unlikely that the senior players will be part of the tour. Moreover, with this being the ODI World Cup year, all the main players are being kept fresh for the Asia Cup which is set to start from August 31.
However, the exact composition of the squad is likely to be confirmed after the newly appointed chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar has a face-to-face conversation with skipper Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid in the West Indies.
Interestingly, India’s pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah is expected to be selected for the Ireland series to assess his fitness. The pace bowler has been out of action for nearly a year due to a back injury, which also ruled him out of the T20 World Cup last year.
If reports are to be believed, Bumrah has made significant progress over the last few months at the NCA and has been bowling at full tilt. His fitness will be seen on the Ireland tour, which will decide his participation in the Asia Cup and subsequently the World Cup later this year.