If Shreyas Iyer is ready to take load of a five-day Test match, he will walk straight into the side: Rahul Dravid

India head coach Rahul Dravid has cleared the air around Shreyas Iyer’s availability for the second India-Australia Test in Delhi starting Friday.

“It is always good to have somebody back from injury. We never like to lose people to injuries and it is never nice for a team, nice for that individual and glad that he (Iyer) is fit. We will take a call after a couple of training sessions,” Dravid said on Iyer’s fitness.

“Today, he has done some training. We will again assess it tomorrow as well when he comes in for a light hit and see how he feels,” the head coach added. “But certainly, if he is ready to take the load of a five-day Test match, then without doubt, with his performances in the past, he will walk straight into the side.”

Iyer had sustained a lower back injury during the white-ball series against Sri Lanka last month and had to undergo a one-month rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) owing to which he also missed the first Test against Australia. In his absence, white-ball sensation Suryakumar Yadav made his Test debut in Nagpur.

Dravid further added why he felt Iyer deserved a spot in the XI.

“Shreyas has played well but what has stood out is his temperament, in quite a few pressure situations since he has been around. Right through his debut game in Kanpur and in last year and half, every time, he has been in tough situations, he, Rishabh and Jadeja are the ones who have been bailing us out and playing those critical knocks,” he said.

“In Bangladesh, we were under pressure and he bailed us out with Ashwin and that’s a good sign. Along with his skill of playing spin really well, he has spent a lot of time in domestic cricket before getting in, obviously he understands how to get runs. But at this level what also counts is your ability to deal with pressure situations, that temperament and ability to find solutions when you are under pressure. From little small sample size we have, he has been very very good at that. He has been one of the better players and he deserves it,” Dravid added.

The head coach also stated without hesitation that the current think tank preferred first choice players over newcomers, even if the latter scored a century or picked a fifer in the absence of the usual players.

“Yeah, without being written in stone or written in rule, certainly, we value contributions of people who have been there and missed out due to injury. They really deserve the right to come back irrespective of what has happened in the time they have been injured.” Dravid said that it is not a “rule” but a convention or practice followed in his regime.

“I can’t answer for everyone but that is certainly the outlook of team management,” he added. “The team understands it well that if someone is replacing someone injured and if the person comes back, he will probably be back (in playing XI). And it will be followed for him as well when he gets injured and he will get the same treatment as well.” “On these tracks, counter-attacking is important.”

Balancing counter-attack and solid defence

Dravid also emphasized the need to add balance to the batting lineup so as to cater to both, counter attacking batting and solid defence in tough conditions.

“We were very lucky to get week in Nagpur. The five sessions there was a lot of quality and specific work, and all the boys felt that we went into the series with good preparation and lot of volume behind us,” he stated.

“Sometimes on tricky wickets, different conditions, you need to play slightly differently. You have to strike a fine balance between defence and being able to put the attack back on the opposition bowlers. Sometimes on wickets like these, if you sit back and are not able to put that pressure back, it can build up to a point where you can lose two to three quick wickets. Ability to put pressure back on bowlers made the difference and that’s what Rohit did.”

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