With a short turnaround period between the T20 World Cup and the upcoming white-ball series against New Zealand, the Indian think-tank gave head coach Rahul Dravid a break, and in place, it would be VVS Laxman who would be overseeing the proceedings. Hardik Pandya would lead Team India in the T20I series while Shikhar Dhawan would captain in ODIs with Laxman acting as the coach. On the eve of the first T20I in Wellington, Laxman addressed a press conference, where he spoke about the preparations and the challenges that lie ahead.
“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 were knocked out of the T20 World Cup after the Rohit Sharma-led side faced a defeat against England in the semi-final. This meant that the wait for an ICC title continues as the Men in Blue last won the Champions Trophy in 2013 under the leadership of MS Dhoni.
“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.”
“There would be situations when you would be under pressure and that is when you are required to be calm as a leader. Also, his presence in the dressing room, and his work ethics are exemplary. The way he leads the side both on and off the field is fabulous. I think he is a players’ captain, he is very approachable. All the players go up to him and confide with him. I think that is something which I really like about Hardik, and he leads by example both on and off the field,” he added.
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