India did register a whitewash against 2021 T20 World Cup finalists New Zealand, winning the series 3-0 in convincing fashion, but newly-appointed head coach Rahul Dravid cautioned the team, advising them to be more “realistic” with India eyeing the big prize a year from now – the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia. And former Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt was absolutely impressed with Dravid’s approach, saying that it only highlights his humility.
“We have to keep our feet on the ground and be realistic, especially with bigger things down the line in the next 12 months,” Dravid told host broadcaster Star Sports after the third T20I in Kolkata. “It’s not easy for New Zealand to play a World Cup final, turn up three days later, and play three games in six days. We knew it was never going to be easy on them.”
New Zealand began the series three nights after their World Cup final loss to Australia in Dubai and played the three matches in a space of five days in the absence of Kane Williamson, Kyle Jamieson while few others were rotated to keep workload in balance with the two-Test series coming up.
India too missed the services of Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja for the series and rather focussed on testing their bench strength to keep options in hand for the Australia T20 World Cup. And Butt did admit these points, but pointed out that it was a lot to ask from New Zealand to mentally prepare for an international series in such a short space.
The veteran cricketer hence felt that Dravid kept these points in mind while making that statement, saying that ultimately it is the world title that matters.
“It only reflects utmost clarity and humility. And very realistic and professional talk because India did win but the other team just came from a World Cup final and hence it is not easy to mentally prepare for another international series so fast. They (New Zealand) also lost the toss. When you play so much international cricket, there is a difference in intensity as well. So he did take all these factors into account when making that statement. Yes India tested their bench strength, there was a new captain, new coach and they managed to win. But he is keeping them in line for the hunt. The actual target is the next target which will be in the next 10 months. So this is absolutely the correct and needed approach,” Butt said on his YouTube channel.
Dravid also did praise the youngsters and newbies who got the opportunity to play in the series. Harshal Patel, who made his debut in the second game, was adjudged the Man of the Match in the same game. Axar Patel was the Player of the Match with his economical three-fer in the final tie. Venkatesh Iyer too finally got his opportunity to bowl in the series and even picked his maiden international wicket.
“It’s been great to see the younger guys come through, we’ve given opportunity to some of the guys who haven’t played too much cricket in the last few months with the seniors taking rest,” Dravid said. “The greatest takeaway for us is to see the skills available to us. We need to continue developing those skills.”