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Dravid supports Hardik Pandya’s decision to bowl first in 2nd T20I in Pune

India’s head coach Rahul Dravid has defended his side’s decision to bowl first in the second T20I by pointing out that there was a lot of dew towards the end of the match and that such decisions should not be based solely on historical could take numbers. Sri Lanka scored 206 for 6 after being brought to bat and India fell to 57 for 5 before ultimately falling by just 16 runs.
Historically, teams batting first were more successful at the MCA Stadium in all T20s, winning 34 games instead of 29 by the chasing teams before Thursday. Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka also pointed this out after losing the toss and said he wanted to bat first after all. However, Dravid said the pitch was good for hitting, and with the dew expected in the second half it wasn’t a bad decision to bowl first.

“The amount of dew there was at the back… it’s just that we lost a few wickets in the chase,” he said at the press conference. “If we had a few wickets in hand I think we would have… we were already close. But there was a lot of dew.

“You can’t follow history. It looked like a really good wicket, to be honest, and it remained a good wicket to the end. It hurt a bit for the fast bowlers if you hit it in the right areas with the new ball But other than that I thought it was a good wicket They played well to get to 207 [206], we made some mistakes with the ball. And although we lost so many wickets, we ran very close to them.

“It wasn’t easy in the back end because you could see they couldn’t eject their spinners because the ball was quite wet. I honestly think the decision was good. If we could have done a little better in a few areas do in the game, we would have achieved the right result.”

India getting so close to target, despite going 57 for 5 in the tenth over, was thanks to Axar Patel. After going 2 for 24 from his four overs, he showed his true with the bat for the second time in two games. While Suryakumar Yadav struggled to accelerate, Axar took the attack on Maheesh Theekshana and Wanindu Hasaranga. He hit 65 from just 31 balls including three fours and six sixes to give India hope. Shivam Mavi also hit 26 off 15 balls by the end using the long handle.

Though their efforts failed to win the match for India, they earned the coach’s praise.

“I think his [Axar’s] batting is progressing in leaps and bounds,” said Dravid. “We always knew his quality with the ball, and it was just about developing his hitting. He works hard at it. He’s been with the team for over a year now and it’s part of his game that we’ve identified. We know it’s important for us to have that.

“With all the opportunities Axar gets, especially with compelling injuries [Ravindra] Jadeja has been missing a lot of cricket lately, he hasn’t failed us whether it’s test cricket, one-day cricket or here. Those are really good signs for us, to have people like him, to have people like Washy [Washington Sundar], which unfortunately does not get a game. He plays very well, he also hits very well. And then of course, hopefully Jadeja’s return gives us a nice little spin bowling all-rounder.

“It is clear that we rely heavily on Hardik for fast-bowling all-rounders [Pandya], and we look around for other people who would like to come forward and maybe do a job for us. It was nice to see Mavi bat today. That puts a smile on your face when you see one of your fast bowlers batting like that. But I think our stocks in our spin bowling all-rounder are pretty good right now. Shahbaz [Ahmed] was also part of the team and given that Washy is here, and as I said Jadeja too, we are happy with that.”

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