R. Sridhar says final decision on playing XI to be taken before toss ‘if needed’

India fielding coach R. Sridhar said the team would take a call on changing the XI it named for the World Test Championship final ahead of the toss on Saturday.

The first day of the inaugural final was washed out due to persistent rain in Southampton. “The XI that was announced (previously) is a team that takes the pitch and conditions out of the equation. They can perform in any given weather conditions. Having said that, the toss is not yet over, so a decision on the final XI will be taken at the time of the toss if needed,” said Sridhar in a virtual media interaction on Friday.

With the reserve day (June 23) likely to come into play, Sridhar welcomed ICC’s decision [to have a reserve day] and said: “We all know how the English weather is, so it was very prudent to have a reserve day. If things start on time tomorrow, we will have four hours of play on reserve day. That will make it a complete match, and that’s what viewers and audience want.”

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“I think there’s no better motivation than playing a World Test Championship final. But, keeping them [the players[ in good mental space is very important because they are going to be on and off the field with the weather. They are an experienced bunch of players and aware that they will have to maintain their concentration level and are in good space right now.” 

Sridhar added that the team is under no pressure with lost time and will approach day two on a positive note. “There is no mental challenge really (with the washout). Tomorrow is going to be the first day of the Test, and we will go in like we approach any new game. That wouldn’t be a big challenge for the boys,” he added.


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Gill in good stead

Sridhar has backed youngster Shubman Gill to prosper in the final despite coming off a lacklustre home Test series against England and an average IPL with the Kolkata Knight Riders.

The 21-year-old registered a meagre 119 runs in seven innings with a lone fifty and two ducks against England. It was followed by a rough patch in IPL-14 – which was suspended midway because of the Covid-19 crisis – where he managed 143 runs in seven innings. 

Dispelling concerns over Gill’s form, Sridhar said: “Shubman Gill is a million-dollar cricketer, isn’t he? I am not in a position to give the technical changes in his batting. But I have given throwdowns to him all these days, and he looks in good nick with an excellent mindset. He is clear about his role. That puts him in good stead for this match, irrespective of the weather. He is an excellent prospect for India, and I can’t wait to watch him perform.”

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