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NEW DELHI: Veteran India off-spinner R Ashwin has defended India head coach Rahul Dravid's absence from the New Zealand tour, saying the support staff "needed a break" after putting in extensive work in preparation for the T20 World Cup.
Days after Dravid's predecessor Ravi Shastri had questioned why an India coach would need a break when they get "two-three months" off during the IPL, Ashwin said that the coaching staff was physically and mentally burned out.
Former India batter and current National Cricket Academy (NCA) head VVS Laxman is in charge of the Indian team in New Zealand in Dravid's absence.
"I will explain why Laxman has gone there with a completely different team because even that could be interpreted differently," Ashwin said on his YouTube channel.
"Rahul Dravid and his team put in extensive hard work ahead of the T20 World Cup - right from planning. Since I saw this from close quarters, I'm saying this. They had specific in-depth plans for each venue and each opposition. So they would have been under not only mental but also physical burnout, and everyone needed a break," he said.
"As soon as the New Zealand series ends, we have the Bangladesh tour. That's why we have a different coaching staff led by Laxman for this tour."
Dravid, one of India's greatest batters, was given a rest after the T20 World Cup as Laxman became India's stand-in coach for the tour of New Zealand, with Hardik Pandya taking over as captain for the T20I series.
The arrangement didn't go down well with Shastri, who was replaced by Dravid at the end of the 2021 T20 World Cup in the UAE.
"I don't believe in breaks. I want to understand my team and players, and then be in control of that team. What do you need that many breaks for, to be honest? You get your two-three months of the IPL, that's enough for you to rest as a coach," Shastri had said. "But other times, I think a coach should be hands-on, whoever he is."
India qualified for the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup in Australia after winning four out of five group matches, but were humiliated by eventual champions England.
Dravid had been also rested for a tour of Zimbabwe earlier this year.
India's ongoing tour of New Zealand comprises three T20Is and three ODIs. After that, India will be in Bangladesh for three ODIs and two Tests, and Dravid will be back for that tour. (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)