'Great for us to have someone of his quality' - Dravid backs this Indian darkhorse ahead of WTC final
Rahul Dravid assessed India's preparations and playing depth ahead of the marquee final of the World Test Championship (WTC) at The Oval. The Indian head coach has been closely supervising the team's practice sessions and leaving no stone unturned in ensuring the cricketers get used to the conditions in England.
One of the players Dravid is keen to see succeed over the coming week is comeback man and middle-order darkhorse Ajinkya Rahane, who is making his return to the Test squad after multiple injuries to the team's incumbents.
The experienced right-hander had been dropped from the side after a sustained dip in his performances following India's disappointing 2-1 Test series loss in South Africa early last year. Since then, however, the elegant player has stood resurrected with his game at the first-class level for Mumbai and earned his way back to the middle for India.
Dravid has little doubt in his mind Rahane must not approach it as a "one-off" opportunity and shall believe he has more to offer to the team in the longest version. The legend insisted the 35-year-old cricketer bolsters India's WTC 2021-23 claims in more ways than one with his batting and fielding acumen.
Dravid stands firm behind Rahane ahead of WTC final
Speaking to the press two days prior to the mighty Australian clash, Dravid said it's "great" for the Rohit Sharma-led Indian team to have Ajinkya Rahane back as he brings wealth of experience and match-winning abilities, as proven in the past via multiple high-impact knocks in foreign conditions.
"Firstly, it's good to have him. We have had a few injuries which probably led to him having the opportunity to come back into the squad. Great for us to have someone of his quality," Dravid said. "He brings a lot of that experience, he brings proven performance in overseas conditions, even in England, he has played some terrific innings for us."
"He brings terrific catching in the slips. He just brings his personality to the group, which is really important. He has led the team and has had considerable success. It's just great to have someone like him around here."
The team management and the selectors came up for criticism from fans and experts for recalling Rahane when the decision-makers were expected to move forward in their thinking and spread the talent net wider by focusing on the youth. But the occasion of a WTC final with the likes of Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer sidelined through injuries has forced them to push the pause button on transition.
"You don't want him to approach this as just a one-off," Dravid said. "Sometimes, you get dropped from teams and you make a comeback and you come back and play for as long as you are playing well and as long as your performing."
"It's not written in stone that you only get one match. If he puts in a good performance and shows what he has got, who knows, even when people come back from injury, you never know what can happen," he added.