The Indian think-tank offered head coach Rahul Dravid a sabbatical because of the short turnaround between the T20 World Cup and the next white-ball series against New Zealand. In his place, VVS Laxman would be in charge of the match. Team India would be captained by Hardik Pandya for the T20I series and Shikhar Dhawan for the ODIs, with Laxman serving as the team’s coach. Laxman spoke during a news conference on the day before the opening T20I in Wellington about the upcoming preparations and difficulties.
“It has been an enjoyable ride for me so far, when I joined NCA, it was all about contributing to Indian cricket and this is an opportunity to spend time and share my knowledge with the youngsters, it has been fulfilling. What straightaway struck me in Ireland was that these youngsters are very talented, but at the same time, they always want to learn and grow as cricketers and that for me is very exciting,” said Laxman.
“There is definitely a lot of cricket being played. There is no doubt about that and that is where Indian cricket is very fortunate where we have so many players to choose from. As team management, and selection committee, you need to be very mindful of when to give certain players a break. Breaks are important for players to not only get physically rejuvenated but also mentally. India is lucky to have that kind of pool of players from whom you can choose. I think in white-ball cricket, you require specialists players, I think that going forward, T20 will see a lot of T20 specialists but managing their workload and at the same time, choosing from the pool we have, is a blessing Indian cricket has,” he added.
India lost against England in the semi-final, and as a result, the Rohit Sharma-led team was eliminated from the T20 World Cup. This meant that the Men in Blue’s wait for an ICC championship would continue since they last won the Champions Trophy in 2013 under MS Dhoni’s leadership. “I think T20 cricket requires playing with a lot of freedom and clarity of thought. And how much time I have spent with these guys and watching them grow over the years into wonderful international cricketers, I think that is their strength. In T20 cricket, you are required to play with a fearless attitude but at the same time, it is important to assess the conditions and situations and fulfill the needs of the team,” said Laxman.
“It is important to be flexible. I think in T20 cricket, you are required to express yourself and that is when you will be successful. I think T20 cricket has shown us over the years that the more amount of multi-dimensional players you have, the better for the team. You have bowlers who can bat, and batters who can bowl, and that is the way forward. That has already been proven in T20 cricket, the more number of bowlers who can bat will add depth to the team and it allows a lot of freedom for the batters to express themselves. That is the need for the format and I am sure more and more teams will try to get that into their selection process and identify players who are multi-dimensional players,” he further added.
Talking about Hardik as captain, Laxman said: “He is a fabulous leader. We have seen what he has done with Gujarat Titans in the IPL. Taking leadership in the first year of the franchise in the tournament, and winning the league is not a mean achievement. I have spent a lot of time with him since the Ireland series, he is just not only tactically sound, but he is very calm on the field and that is something which is very important at the highest level.”