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West Indies players celebrate their victory during the fifth and final T20I match against India at the Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Florida, on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Florida: Following his side’s T20I series loss to West Indies, Indian coach Rahul Dravid said that the lack of batting depth in the side is something that needs to be addressed without weakening the bowling attack so that team could get more flexibility in deciding the combinations.

Nicholas Pooran and Brandon King’s blistering batting display at Lauderhill helped West Indies clinch a five-match T20I series 3-2 against India here at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium Turf Ground on Sunday.

India went in this series with four No 11s in each of their five T20Is, with very little ability to bat. This lack of batting depth did not help India at all, especially in cases of top-order/middle-order collapses that consistently troubled India in the white-ball leg of the series. Dravid admitted that batting depth is indeed an issue for India.

Change of combinations

“I think in terms of our squad here, probably it did not allow us the flexibility in some ways to be able to change the combinations a little bit. But I think going forward, we have got to look at certain areas in which we can get better. Finding depth in our batting has been an area we are trying to address. We are trying to do the best we possibly can but that is certainly an area we can look at, how we cannot weaken our bowling attack but ensure we have a certain amount of depth in batting,” said Dravid in a post-match press conference.

“As these games are going on, and scores are becoming bigger and bigger, if you look at West Indies, they had Alzarri Joseph coming in at No 11 and he can hit a mean ball. So you have sides that have that depth. Obviously, we have some challenges on that front and we need to work on that. It’s certainly something that this series has shown us and we need to build on that depth,” he added.

Several senior players like Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Shreyas Iyer etc missed this series due to injuries or workload management.

“The bulk of the [T20 World Cup] team will be from this XV,” Wasim Jaffer told a popular cricket website.

More youngsters needed

“You need to look at the youngsters to take you forward in this format. So players like Yashasvi Jaiswal, Tilak Varma, Mukesh Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Arshdeep Singh, they are the future. But there are some gaps you need to fill. The major concern is the batting finishing at number seven. Quite a few of the top order are not getting a start and not converting it and quite a bit of that boils down to them feeling there is nobody to bat after number seven so they have to bat the bulk of the overs and when you go with that mindset, it does not help.”

“Within 10 months’ time, India will be playing the World Cup. This cannot be the template. The batting needs to come till number eight, possibly nine, somebody who can tonk the ball. And obviously, the bowlers, need to start getting their batting a little bit better. At least their six-hitting or four-hitting ability. We need to look at guys who can bat and bowl. Shivam Dube comes to my mind. Venkatesh Iyer, Washington Sundar, those are the guys that come to mind and we need to groom them,” he concluded.

Jaiswal, Varma imperssive

Dravid was however impressed with the performances of youngsters like Yashasvi Jaiswal (356 runs in six innings with one century and two fifties), Tilak Varma (173 runs in five innings at an average of 57.66 with one fifty and a wicket) and Mukesh Kumar (nine wickets across nine matches in all formats on this tour).

“I thought all the three guys who made debuts for us in this series, stood up. Yashasvi Jaiswal in the fourth T20I game, I thought he played a very good innings. He has shown us what he can do in the IPL and it was nice to see him replicate that in international cricket,” said Dravid.

“Tilak Varma, I thought, was really good, to come in the middle order. He came in sometimes in very difficult situations. But every time, he plays with a lot of intent, plays very positively, looks to move the game along, fielded brilliantly throughout the series, and showed us he can bowl one or two overs as well. So really positive signs from Tilak and to have that left-hander in the middle order does make a huge difference against some of the attacks that we’ve been playing against.”

“Mukesh as well. He debuted in all the formats in this series and I thought he acquitted himself really well. His ability to bowl at the death, sometimes he was called upon to bowl against some really big powerful hard hitters and he acquitted himself well for someone who was just playing his fourth or fifth game. So I think there are some real good positives in the guys who made their debuts for us and hopefully, they take confidence from the series and keep learning as they go forward. They will be going to Ireland and get a few more opportunities in the T20 format and I am sure the more opportunities they get, the better they will be,” he concluded.

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India's skipper Hardik Pandya congratulates West Indies players after their victory during the fifth and final T20I match at the Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Florida, on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Pandya fails to finish game

Meanwhile, skipper Hardik Pandya said that he failed to finish the game well, “sometimes losing is good, you get to learn a lot.”

“If you see, we lost that period post ten overs. Since when I came, I was not able to capitalise and I took my time and could not finish. [On his decision at the toss] I believe that as a group we have to challenge ourselves. All these games are the games where we have to learn. We have spoken as a group that whenever we can take the hard way we will. In hindsight, one series here or there does not matter but the commitment to the goal is important. [On the T20 World Cup next year] It is a long way. We have the ODI WC coming up. And sometimes losing is good. You get to learn a lot,” said Pandya in a post-match presentation.

“And special mention for all the boys. They showed great character. Winning and losing is a part of the process and we are going to make sure we learn from that. [On his bowling changes] It is what I feel at the moment, I do not plan much. If I see a situation, whatever my gut says I follow. [On captaining young players] They have got heart. That is something that is very important in international cricket. Every youngster coming through has belief. That is something I see very often now. Kudos to them, they came out and took responsibility. I cannot be happier as a captain,” added the skipper.