Suryakumar Yadav finds backing from Rahul Dravid

India had announced their 15-member squad for the ICC World Cup 2023, but a possible last-ditch change to the squad before the ICC deadline on September 28 wasn’t entirely ruled out until on Thursday when head coach Rahul Dravid declared that Suryakumar Yadav had his complete backing.

One name that has been the subject of much debate and scrutiny is Suryakumar, who ranks No.1 in ICC’s T20I batter’s rankings, but whose ODI form has been suspect. Yadav's ordinary run of form in the fifty-overs format has raised questions about his place in the World Cup squad at the expense of Sanju Samson.

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All eyes on Suryakumar Yadav

While his consistent performances in the shortest format have earned him accolades and recognition worldwide, his ODI numbers are not pretty to look at. After 27 ODIs, he averages a mere 24.41, with two fifties. These numbers have led some to question his ability to perform in longer formats where more application is desired.

Suryakumar Yadav managed to secure a spot in the World Cup squad despite threats from Samson and other domestic batters. And now, head coach Rahul Dravid, speaking ahead of the ODI series against Australia, left no room for doubt as he expressed his unwavering confidence in the middle-order batsman's skills.

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“We've picked our team for the World Cup, and Surya is in it,” Dravid emphasized, hinting that there might not be any last-minute changes to India's final World Cup 15.

Dravid continued to underscore the team's faith in Yadav, saying, “We back him because he's got a certain quality and an ability that we have seen.”

Dravid also hinted that India could be eyeing Suryakumar in the finisher role at No.6 behind the likes of Virat Kohli and KL Rahul if he manages to get into the XI. That decision could hinge on how he goes in these ODIs against Australia where the seniors are rested for the first two games.

The last time India faced the Aussies, Suryakumar Yadav floundered big-time, notching up three successive golden ducks in an unprecedented series of scores in a bilateral series. While his menace from that series – Mitchell Starc – is ruled out of the first ODI, Suryakumar will know that he needs a good showing here to justify the faith the coach has shown in him.

In terms of World Cup team selection, though, Dravid made it unequivocally clear that the decision had already been made. “But in terms of selection, I think we've made our decision,” he confirmed.

As the series against Australia looms, it remains to be seen if Yadav can use this opportunity to secure a spot in India's already competitive starting XI for the World Cup. With the constant support of head coach Rahul Dravid and his franchise, Mumbai Indians, captain Rohit Sharma, Yadav has the chance to shine on cricket's biggest stage and silence his critics.