India head coach Rahul Dravid dropped a big hint about India’s playing XI for their last group-stage match of World Cup 2023 against the Netherlands at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday. With India confirmed a No.1 finish in the points table irrespective of the result of the match against Netherlands, there were speculations about a few top players opting out of this match to stay fresh for the semi-final against New Zealand. India will play the Kiwis in the first semi-final of World Cup 2023 on November 16 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
Dravid, however, indicated India will field the best possible XI against the Netherlands because there was a six-day gap between India’s last match against South Africa and this match. “We’ve had six days off from the last game. So, we’re pretty well rested and the guys are in good shape. That’s all I’ll say without giving away the level. So, we’ve had six days off, we’ve got one game before the semi-final. Boys are rested. So that’s all I’ll say,” Dravid told reporters on the eve of the match.
With Hardik Pandya injured, there is a lot of pressure on India’s frontline seamers – Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, and Mohammed Siraj – to deliver the goods in every match. The fact that India don’t have a proper sixth bowling option also adds to the workload.
Will Prasidh Krishna make his World Cup debut?
Noting this, India drafted Prasidh Krishna into their squad as Hardik’s replacement but Dravid said, the chances of the young pacer making his World Cup debut on Sunday are slim.
“You’re at a pointy end in a tournament now. So now at this stage, it’s about just focusing on getting the guys who you think are going to be playing in the XI in the best possible space mentally and physically to be able to play that semifinal and hopefully the final if we if we earn it. So that will be the single pointed thinking it’s not about there are times there are times for larger picture thinking and there are times for narrow focus thinking in my opinion and now’s the time for sure narrow focus thinking if everyone is fit,” Dravid said.
India are the only side yet to be beaten in this World Cup and they will enter Netherlands match and also the semi-final against New Zealand as hot favourites. But Dravid is well aware of the threat that New Zealand bring. They were the ones who beat an in-form in the last edition of the World Cup in the semi-final.
“I think we just want to focus one game at a time. You still have to play good cricket, whether you’re playing in a league game, as we’ve done, or whether you’ve got to play a semi-final. I mean, you’ve just got certain skills you’ve got to execute, and execute really well and execute better than the opposition.
“You just got to focus on that, focus on what you can control, which is your skills, your ability. Prepare yourself both mentally, and physically as best as you can for the game. And then and then just play that game and try and do the best in that particular game.”