Ahead of the first T20I match against New Zealand, Indian head coach VVS Laxman said that the batters have been asked to play fearless cricket while keeping conditions and situations in mind. India will kick off its tour of New Zealand with the first T20I in Wellington on Friday.
“In T20I cricket, we need to play with freedom and fearlessness and we have such players that can go out and express themselves. The message given to them by the captain and management is that they bat fearlessly but also keep conditions and situations in mind and create strategies accordingly,” said Laxman in a press conference. Laxman admitted that the shorter format needs more multi-dimensional players, bowlers who can bat and batters who can bowl.
“More number of bowlers who can bat adds depth to batting lineup and gives freedom to batters to go out and express themselves. That is the need of the format and I am sure that more teams will try getting this in their selection process and identify players who are multi-dimensional,” he added. About skipper Hardik Pandya’s captaincy, the coach said that he is not only tactically good, but also very calm on-field, which is needed while playing in pressure situations at the highest level.
“He is a fabulous leader. We have seen what he has done in IPL. I have spent time with him from Ireland. His presence and work ethic are exemplary. He is a player’s captain and is approachable. Players confide in him. He leads by example,” he added. Laxman said that it is always challenging to play in New Zealand, especially for bowlers and fielders.
“It is not about the smaller grounds, but the dimensions of the ground. In Wellington and Aukland, there are not normal cricket grounds. The best part of international cricket is that you have to adapt to conditions and situations. I am sure the team will do that. Based on the strengths and weakness of the opponents, you need to create a strategy and execute it perfectly,” he added. On strategising against Kiwi players like Finn Allen, Laxman said that analytics play an important role for the team to create strategies against not only every player, but also the ones who are not very familiar to the side.
Laxman also said that he has enjoyed his journey as a coach. “For me, we should not dive too much into results. It has been enjoyable for me. When I joined NCA, it was about giving back to Indian Cricket. It has been an opportunity to share my knowledge and experience with youngsters and it is fulfilling. What I saw in Ireland, that these youngsters are talented, but they always want to learn, grow and improve as players and it is exciting. Their thought process is exciting,” he added.
The head coach praised batter Shubman Gill, calling him a “match-winner”. Laxman said that the Indian Premier League (IPL) has helped create a talent pool in white-ball cricket while the robust domestic cricket structure has done the same for red-ball cricket.
On a hectic cricket schedule, Laxman admitted that it is indeed the case and India is blessed to have so many young talents to choose from. “As selectors, you have to be mindful when a player is supposed to be given breaks as they help him rejuvenate physically and mentally. India has that pool from which we can choose. In white-ball, you need specialists. You need T20I specialists, which will be the way forward. Managing their workload, choosing the talent from the pool we have is a blessing for Indian cricket,” he concluded.
India will be touring New Zealand for a white-ball series comprising three T20Is and as many ODIs after the World T20 in Australia. The series will be held between November 18 to 30 and New Zealand will return to India for a white-ball series in January next year. Squad for New Zealand T20Is: Hardik Pandya (C), Rishabh Pant (vc & wk), Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan, Deepak Hooda, Surya Kumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Sanju Samson (wk), W Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Arshdeep Singh, Harshal Patel, Mohd. Siraj, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umran Malik.
New Zealand T20I squad: Kane Williamson (c), Finn Allen, Michael Bracewell, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Daryl Mitchell, Adam Milne, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee and Blair Tickner.