'Is Rahul Dravid a proactive coach?' - former India player calls for more backroom support for skipper Hardik Pandya
Amidst heavy criticism for his decision-making at the fag end of the Guyana T20I versus the West Indies, stand-in India skipper Hardik Pandya found support in the form of his statemate and former cricketer Parthiv Patel, who instead called for greater scrutiny on coach Rahul Dravid.
Patel said Dravid needed to be more "proactive" as a coach and ensured Pandya's mistakes during the two T20Is so far in the Caribbean were avoided. The ex wicketkeeper-batter feels Hardik is missing the approach taken by Ashish Nehra in the same role with the Gujarat Titans (GT), for whom the premier allrounder led the side to the title in IPL 2022 and oversaw a runners-up finish in IPL 2023.
Three obvious errors have seen Hardik Pandya the captain fall under the scanner of fans and experts in the series so far: first, giving left-arm spinner Axar Patel the often targetted sixth over of the powerplay against the rampaging Nicholas Pooran and then repeating the same error in the second match with young Ravi Bishnoi when Hardik could've bowled himself.
The third one came late in the second T20I when for curious reasons the captain decided not to give game-changer Yuzvendra Chahal his fourth over despite the experienced wristspinner changing the proceedings with two wickets in the 16th. As it panned out, West Indies lower-order men Akeal Hosein and Alzarri Joseph relished more pace on the ball and pushed their team home when 24 were required off the last four overs.
Parthiv backs Pandya; criticises Dravid
For Patel, however, those are errors that Dravid needed to have ironed out immediately and take more control of things. Like Nehra does with the Titans, being constantly in skipper Hardik Pandya's ears from the edge of the boundary line.
From the outside, one get the feeling Dravid is willing to let Pandya grow with experience as India's captain. Having been identified as Rohit Sharma's full-time successor in white-ball cricket, the coach is fine for him to undergo the process of learning from his mistakes over time as the team rebuilds the T20I set-up towards the next T20 World Cup in the Caribbean & USA.
"There have been a couple of instances about Hardik Pandya's captaincy which have been glaring mistakes. The first was giving that over to Axar Patel in the first game when Nicholas Pooran had come out to bat. And today, this one," Patel told Cricbuzz.
"Hardik Pandya the captain has been brilliant with GT but at Gujarat Titans he had that support of Ashish Nehra. But is Rahul Dravid that proactive coach or person which we are looking for in the T20 format. I don't think so."
"In my mind, we need someone who is proactive. Hardik Pandya has that spark but he needs that support, which to me Rahul Dravid doesn't provide," he added.