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Rahul Dravid Defends Hardik Pandya’s Decision

Rahul Dravid Defends Hardik Pandya’s Decision

India head coach Rahul Dravid has cited the dew factor in his defense, and explanation, of India’s decision to bowl first in the second T20I against Sri Lanka in Pune, where the hosts conceded a 16-run loss in a high-scoring encounter. The series now stands level at 1-1 as the two teams head to Rajkot for the series decider on Saturday.

Powered by skipper Dasun Shanaka’s belligerent 56* (22), Sri Lanka smashed 77 runs in the last 5 overs to finish at 206. India suffered another batting collapse and were 57/5 before a breathtaking partnership of 91 (40) between Suryakumar Yadav and Axar Patel kept India alive.

After SKY’s dismissal, Patel carried on his terrific hitting and, with some help of Shivam Mavi’s late hits, brought the equation down to 21 needed off 6 balls. However, Shanaka stepped up again and conceded only 4 runs in the last over.

At the toss, there were two contrasting opinions shared by the two captains: while Hardik Pandya, who elected to bowl first, didn’t seem to know the history of the Pune ground - where teams batting first have been more successful at the MCA Stadium in all T20s, winning 34 games as opposed to 29 by the chasing teams - while Shanaka thoroughly knew the stats of the ground and was happy to bat first. The history of the ground prevailed as the team batting first - Sri Lanka - won again.

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Rahul Dravid defends criticism of Hardik Pandya

Defending Hardik’s decision at the toss, Rahul Dravid pointed out that dew made its impact during India’s innings, so their decision wasn’t incorrect either.

“The amount of dew there was at the back-end... it’s just that we lost a few wickets in the chase,” Dravid said at the press conference. “If we had a few wickets in hand, I think we would have… we got close already. But there was a lot of dew.”

“You cannot go on past history,” Dravid explained.

He added: “It looked like a really good wicket, to be honest, and it stayed a good wicket right through. It did a little bit for the fast bowlers if you pitched it in the right areas with the new ball. But other than that, I thought it was a good wicket. They played well to get to 207 [206], we made some mistakes with the ball. And even though we lost that many wickets, we ran them really close.

Rahul Dravid opined India needed to be better in “few areas” and could have had the result in their favor.

“It was not easy in the back-end as you could see they couldn’t bowl their spinners out because of the ball being quite wet. I honestly think the decision was fine. If we could have done slightly better in a few areas in the game, we would have got the right result,” the head coach said.