Right through the World Cup, on the eve of every match, Rohit Sharma insisted that they would wait and “assess the wicket” before the start to decide on the playing XI.
It almost turned out to be so on Sunday. Ravichandran Ashwin came close to winning a berth in the team for the final against Australia before the team management decided not to disturb the winning combination and continued with Mohammed Siraj.
It is understood that head coach Rahul Dravid had pitched for off-spinner Ashwin considering the slow and low nature of the wicket. But following the customary warm-up session, it was decided that Siraj would play.
As it turned out, India’s batters struggled with their free-flowing strokeplay on the two-paced wicket resulting in not enough runs on the board. The bowlers too failed as batting became easier for Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne to stitch together a match-winning partnership.
But would Ashwin’s presence have made much of a difference?
The pitch was dry but there was very little life for the spinners. Ravindra Jadeja did
put Head under stress in the initial part of his innings but Kuldeep Yadav made no impact.
Adam Zampa and Glenn Maxwell had been comparatively more effective during the India innings.
But given Ashwin’s craft, it wouldn’t have come as a surprise if he could have forced a breakthrough. Another wicket could have made a difference though Dravid felt there weren’t enough runs for the bowlers to battle it out.
“Probably today was one of those days where we just didn’t give them enough runs to be able to work with,” the head coach said after the match on Sunday night.
It is unlikely that Dravid will continue in his role as head coach since his contract has expired with the end of the World Cup. National Cricket Academy chief VVS Laxman is tipped to take over.
Sources told The Telegraph that Dravid hasn’t told the players or informed the support staff anything about his future.
“I haven’t thought about it,” Dravid said at the news conference. “I’ve just come off a game. I have no time to think about this and no time to reflect on this. Yeah, I will when I get the time to do that... I was completely focused on this campaign. There was nothing else on my mind. And I haven’t given any other thought to what happens in the future.
“There was a lot of emotion in that dressing room. It was tough to see as a coach because I know how hard these guys have worked, what they’ve put in, the sacrifices they’ve made. It’s tough to see that as a coach because you get to know these boys personally,” Dravid said.
Bowling coach Paras Mhambrey and fielding coach T. Dilip are expected to continue.
Having spent 16 years living out of a suitcase during his playing days, Dravid isn’t keen on having another term. His son Samit too has been doing well at the U-19 level for Karnataka and wants to closely monitor his career.
Most of the players left for their home destinations on Monday following a
disappointing end to their campaign.
The BCCI too hasn’t had any discussion with Dravid. Once the dust settles on this campaign, there will be discussion on the T20 captaincy and if Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli will be kept out of the squad for the World Cup next year in the West Indies
and the US.
A clear picture is expected before next month’s tour of South Africa.