Rahul Dravid explains why Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli were rested
Rahul Dravid stood firm with his intentions behind India's persistent experiments through the ODI series against West Indies. The head coach insisted the decision to tinker with entry points and eventually rest big names Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma for the first two ODIs in Barbados was to provide India's backup arsenal their opportunities with only a month prior to the Asia Cup, which preludes to the World Cup.
Even as Saturday's (July 29) disappointing loss levelled the series 1-1 and threw question marks on India's plans for the series, Dravid said India wouldn't have gained much out of the assignment if they merely let Kohli and Rohit applied their greatness against a struggling opposition and took an unassailable lead.
The coach said the team is mindful also of the number of injuries to the side's first-choice cricketers, including five major incumbents in the form of Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant and Prasidh Krishna - four of which are optimistic cases for the World Cup - and it became even more of a key then to give the team's immediate backups more time in the middle.
For Dravid, the bigger picture of the Asia Cup and the World Cup was too bright to ignore for the sake of clinching an ODI series in the Caribbean and the coach hinted the side could continue to pick their combination along those lines for what is now a series decider in Trinidad on Tuesday (August 1).
Dravid on India resting Kohli, Rohit in the Caribbean
Speaking to the press after the conclusion of India's six-wicket defeat in the penultimate ODI at the Kensington Oval, Dravid revealed the thought process behind the team management's call to rest the marquee old-guard of the side and provide Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson, Suryakumar Yadav their opportunities to emerge as strong possible backups in case the injured men don't comeback on time for the World Cup.
"This was our last chance to be able to try out some of our players. We have got few of our players who are injured and at the NCA, and with a month to go for the Asia Cup, we are running out of time," Dravid said. "We are hopeful that some of them (injured players) will be fit for the Asia Cup and the World Cup. But we can't take those chances."
"We have to try out other people and give other people the chances so that in worst case scenario, they at least have game time under them. It gives us an opportunity to make some decisions on players. We just felt that, honestly, in a series like this with just three games before the Asia Cup, playing Virat and Rohit wouldn't have give us answers."
Dravid also backed the experiment philosophy and the need for the think-tank to be aware of the "bigger picture" by suggesting India would continue to tinker with their line-up for the third and final One-Dayer.