Rahul Dravid keeps Playing XI close to chest


IND vs SA LIVE: Team India coach Rahul Dravid kept the Playing XI for Boxing Day Test against South Africa close to his chest. Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma’s performances have come under the scanner and at least one of them is expected to be benched. But Team India head coach Rahul Dravid kept the Playing XI close to his chest. Follow Insidesport.IN for India vs South Africa LIVE Updates.

“They are all professionals. Sometimes, you must have difficult conversations. It is hard. But they all understand the situation. Many of them are in leadership groups. I expect them to be disappointed. How you take that will be the test,” Rahul Dravid said at the virtual pre-match press conference on Saturday.

IND vs SA Live: Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma under spotlight but Rahul Dravid keeps Playing XI close to chest

With Ajinkya Rahane struggling and so is Ishant Sharma, head coach Rahul Dravid and skipper Virat Kohli have a tough decision to make on who comes into the Playing XI. Dravid said he will keep it secret until the toss as the opposition also hasn’t revealed theirs.

“We are very clear within our group about the Playing XI. But we are going to keep it that way. I don’t want to reveal what is exact playing XI as I don’t want to give the opposition that time,” Rahul Dravid said.

Also Read: IND vs SA 1st Test: KL Rahul backs Ajinkya Rahane for No 5 spot but says, ‘Decision on Iyer, Vihari before match’

Also Read: IND vs SA LIVE: 1st test begins Sunday, Dean Elgar throws first…

IND vs SA Live: Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma under spotlight but Rahul Dravid keeps Playing XI close to chest

Who will be India’s No. 5? Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihar or Shreyas Iyer?

  • Dravid said he had conversations with all the players especially with Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara. But he refused to rule anyone out. Instead, he backed Rahane saying he had a good practice session this week.

Will India Play with 5 specialist Bowlers?

  • Dravid opted to keep his bowling combination close to his chest. He said only at the toss that the team will be announced.

Rahul Dravid Press Conference Excerpts:

On Ajinkya Rahane

The conversations have been positive. He has trained well this week. He seems to be in a really good space.

On Virat Kohli

From a Test team perspective, we have series to win. We won against NZ but SA series is going to be a tough one. WTC Final is also in our mind. Hopefully, we keep improving and move towards our goal. Virat has a great role to play as a player, captain. He is one of the players who loves Test cricket.

No Warm-up matches

It does really help. But that is the situation we are in. We have had centre wicket sessions. In terms of conditions, we could not have asked for more. I think we are ready.

IND vs SA Live: Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma under spotlight but Rahul Dravid keeps Playing XI close to chest

South Africa tough for batsmen

It’s a great opportunity for any batsman to do well in these conditions. A lot of your career will be defined by those performances. In terms of team selection, it’s not easy to leave out any player. Obviously, at times, we have to take some calls. But we will not be carried away. We have had good discussions on the Playing XI to win a Test match in South Africa.

On captaincy inputs

That is the role of the selector. I am not going to the internal conversations I had with individual players. It is certainly not going to come out in public.

Communication with players

They are all professionals. Sometimes, you must have difficult conversations. It is hard. But they all understand the situation. Many of them are in leadership groups. I expect them to be disappointed. How you take that will be the test.

IND vs SA Live: Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma under spotlight but Rahul Dravid keeps Playing XI close to chest

Experience of playing in South Africa

It is challenging especially in Centurion. But we have a good team with experience of playing in SA.

How important is it going to be starting well?

It is important but not that important. But it is always nice to win the first match and start well. If we can put them under pressure.

South Africa attack

Our attack is more experienced but they have some good quality bowlers in their ranks. We are certainly not going to take them lightly. If our bowlers have to take 20 wickets, our batsmen also need to score good runs.

We are very clear within our group about the Playing XI. But we are going to keep it that way. I don’t want to reveal what is exact playing XI as I don’t want to give the opposition that time.

On Cheteshwar Pujara

In our conversations, we have been clear. Winning in these sorts of conditions will be down to team performance. We will need contribution from everyone and that’s what the conversation we have had. It is not just about Pujara, Rahane or a Kohli.

IND vs SA Live: Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma under spotlight but Rahul Dravid keeps Playing XI close to chest

IND vs SA LIVE: The India Tour of South Africa marks Dravid’s first assignment as head coach overseas. The former Indian captain is targetting 1st series win in South Africa.

Dravid was the first Indian captain to win a Test match in South Africa and will hope to add a series honour against his name, helping Virat Kohli and Co. beat the Proteas at home.

However, in the build up to the contest, Rahul Dravid will face a barrage of burning questions from the press, particularly in regards to the team combination.

Will India Play with 5 specialist Bowlers? In the absence of Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel, the balance of the side is little topsy turvy.

IND vs SA Live: Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma under spotlight but Rahul Dravid keeps Playing XI close to chest

India is looking to play 5 specialist bowlers & their is a good chance that Shardul Thakur will be included in XI.

But this will mean – Virat Kohli can only include 1 of the three i.e Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer or Hanuma Vihari in playing XI.

With his batting form deserting him, Ajinkya Rahane was sacked as vice-captain before the IND vs SA series. Now even his place in the XI is in doubt.

Both his competitors Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer have made their case. Vihari scored consecutive 50s in South Africa during the A tour.

Shreyas Iyer scored a century and a fifty on debut against recenly concluded series against New Zealand.

IND vs SA Live: Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma under spotlight but Rahul Dravid keeps Playing XI close to chest

“It is a very very difficult decision. Ajinkya has played crucial knocks for India including the one in Melbourne or in Lord’s recently. He has been a key player for us. Shreyas has taken his chances. Hanuma has also done the same for us. We will have a chat about that on Saturday,” KL Rahul admitted on Friday.

Dravid today in Press Conference will be asked the same questions about Indian team’s composition for the opening test. Follow Insidesport.IN for Dravid’s Press Conference LIVE at 4.30PM

Also Read: IND vs SA LIVE: 3 Big Selection decisions in front of Indian think-tank, who they will pick for the Indian Playing XI? Follow LIVE Updates

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