‘It’s not really only about this match’

India coach Rahul Dravid has declared that his team is under no pressure going into the World Test Championship (WTC) final 2023 against Australia. The 7-11 June title clash at The Oval in London will be India’s latest attempt to win an ICC title.

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They last won a global title in 2013 with the Champions Trophy win in England.

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India were also part of the WTC final in 2021 but lost to New Zealand.

“No, not at all. I mean we don’t feel any pressure in terms of trying to win an ICC trophy. Of course it would be nice to do it. It would be certainly nice to be able to win an ICC tournament. But also in the context of things, you look at this and you see this is the culmination of two years of work.

“It’s a culmination of a lot of success that gets you here. So there’s a lot of positives to take from that to see where you stand on the table. Winning series in Australia, drawing series here, being very competitive everywhere that this team has played in the world over the last five or six years.

“I think those are things that will never change just because you have or you don’t have an ICC trophy. That’s really the bigger picture,” said Dravid.

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Dravid also revealed that the team management had a word with Cheteshwar Pujara to get a better idea of the conditions in England. While all Indian players were busy playing in IPL 2023, Pujara played in the County Championship for Sussex and also scored a lot of runs.

“We’ve had conversations with Pujee – about captaincy, about obviously batting, but also he leads Sussex. So he’s also got a good handle on things in terms of the kind of tactics and the strategy that’s used by a lot of the county bowlers that he’s played with.

“So we’ve had some conversations and discussions obviously with him in and around that and we’ll see how we can maybe incorporate some of that. Doesn’t drastically change some of the basics of the game. They always remain the same,” said Dravid.

Apart from Pujara, another veteran who could be a key player for India is Ajinkya Rahane who is back in Team India after an 18 months gap.

Injuries to Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul resulted in Rahane getting selected for the Test team, but Dravid feels that Rahane shouldn’t look at the opportunity as a “one-off”.

“Firstly it’s good to have him. We’ve had a few injuries which have probably led to him having the opportunity to come back into the squad. Great for us to have someone of his quality back.

“He brings obviously a lot of that experience, he brings proven performance in overseas conditions. Even in England he’s played some terrific innings for us.

“He brings terrific catching in the slips as well to the group. He just brings his personality to the group as well which is really important. He’s led the team to considerable success. And again, I wouldn’t want him to approach this as just a one-off.”

Dravid added that Rahane could play more matches if he performs well for India.

“Sometimes you get dropped from teams and you make a comeback and you can play for as long as you’re playing well and as long as you’re performing. It’s not written in stone or rule that you only get one match. He puts in a good performance, really shows what he’s got.

“Who knows, even when people come back from injury, you never know what can happen. So again, from my point of view, it’s not really only about this match. Yes this match is important but then in the larger context of things there’s a lot of cricket to be played further down the road as well,” he said.

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