'Give Dravid, Rohit a fair opportunity to rebuild' - former captain backs the much-criticised duo
Even as they have been sitting ducks to widespread criticism in the aftermath of India's painstaking loss in the World Test Championship (WTC), the Rahul Dravid-Rohit Sharma duo has found backing and support from an unexpected corner.
Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith, who has played against the two giants of Indian cricket, believes cricket lovers and pundits must give coach Dravid a "fair opportunity" to rebuild the core group of India's Test team. Smith also reckons captain Rohit must bide time in the middle to "refresh" his own performance and consistency as an opening batter.
Dravid has faced the brunt of India's angry cricket fan, frustrated at the team's repeated failure to cross the last hurdle in ICC events. That the coach has had to deal with a declining set of experienced players at a time when the domestic game is only just beginning to recover on its feet from Covid impact and is offering no ready backups to replace the esteemed names, has been largely ignored amidst heavy criticism.
For Rohit, even as his batting hasn't endured as stark a dip as a few of his popular teammates, Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane in particular, the elegant Indian batter and skipper has came up for flak due to his inability to convert twin starts in the WTC final and the team's 208-run mauling.
Smith backs Dravid-Rohit duo to comeback strong
Speaking in an interview with the Times of India, Smith, the former Proteas skipper and SA20 League Commissioner, urged Indian cricket supporters to give more time to coach Dravid while allowing giving skipper Rohit room to press the recharge button with his batting.
"India can put two or three teams together. The biggest challenge in India for a leader is balancing those squads, balancing your tour schedules, the different formats, and those are some of the biggest decisions that are coming ahead of Rahul and his selection team," Smith said.
"What do those squads look like, how do they move those teams forward. He’s a quality man and a quality performer. He’s shown it right through as a coach. So, you’ve got to give him a fair opportunity now to kind of rebuild India."
Having watched Rohit bat without consistency as a commentator during the IPL 2023 for Mumbai Indians (MI) and now the WTC final, Smith reckoned he needs to "refresh" his game and put in personal performances that would help revitalise India's fortunes in the middle.
"Rohit probably needs to just refresh. His own form hasn’t been probably at a level consistently. We look at the IPL over a number of years now and obviously the WTC final…he is having a bit of a rough patch and often that personal performance can just settle things down a little bit."
"No one is criticizing his captaincy or leadership style. It’s just obviously on the personal performance side, if he can get some really good scores behind him, it takes a lot of that pressure away," he added.