Bowing out on a high: Rahul Dravid’s coaching tenure will go down as one of the finest in India

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Bowing out on a high: Rahul Dravid’s coaching tenure will go down as one of the finest in India

By Dilip Unnikrishnan 

It is not easy being the coach of the Indian men’s cricket team. It becomes even more difficult when you take over from a highly successful and beloved coach.

Just ask Greg Chappell and Anil Kumble. Each took over the job after their predecessors had taken the team to new heights. Chappell took charge in 2005 after the successful era of John Wright, who had helped India change their approach to cricket.

Kumble became coach in 2016 following Duncan Fletcher who had guided India to the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy title. 

However, neither Chappell and Kumble were able to replicate the success of their predecessors and saw their own tenures coming to tumultuous ends.

So it was only natural that Rahul Dravid, a former India captain and one of the finest batters of his generation, was reluctant to take the hot seat from Ravi Shastri in 2021.

Though Shastri’s reign ended in 2021 with a forgettable 2021 T20 World Cup campaign and no ICC trophies, he, along with captain Virat Kohli, molded India into the best Test and One-Day International team in the world.

More importantly, towards the end of Shastri’s tenure, the team was in the middle of a transition, with a host of players in the twilight of their careers. This was compounded by the fact that Kohli resigned as captain of the T20I side in 2021 and then asked to step down as captain of the ODI and Test teams as well.

After India won the T20 World Cup title on Saturday in Guyana, the 51-year-old Dravid departed from his role. He had helped end a 13-year wait for a World Cup. And he did it while making India arguably the best all-format team in the world.

If Shastri and Kohli epitomised the in-your-face attitude of the India team, Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma focused on ironing out the chinks in the Indian team’s armour.

Dravid, who coached the Indian Under-19 team that won the 2018 Under-19 World Cup, spearheaded the charge to bleed in youngsters to take over from seniors like Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Wriddhiman Saha.

Dravid was the perfect coach for captain Sharma. Dravid saw himself more as support staff rather than the one calling the shots. That made it easier for Sharma to implement his vision of making the team the best all-format side.

In the last 12 months alone, India reached the finals of the 2021-23 World Test Championship, the 2023 ODI World Cup and the T20 World Cup – winning the last one.

Every cricket fan who lived through India’s 2000s couldn’t help but smile and maybe even shed a tear as the normally serene Dravid joined in the team’s boisterous celebrations.

It was in the Caribbean that Dravid faced the lowest point of his career. Under his captaincy, India were ousted in the group stage of the 2007 ODI World Cup. It is perhaps fitting that his greatest achievement as a coach would also come in these isles as India won the T20 World Cup in Guyana.

Fun fact of the week: Wimbledon 2024, which began on Monday, is the first edition of the grass court Grand Slam since 1996 in which neither Serena Williams nor her elder sister Venus will be competing in the women’s singles draw. The two sisters have won 12 singles titles between them at the world’s oldest tennis tournament – Venus with five and Serena with seven. They faced each other six times in the Grand Slam between 2002-’15, four times in the finals, where Serena triumphed over her older sister three times.

Here's a recap of the top stories from this past week

ICC Men’s T20 World Cup: As champions India end a long drought, tears of joy have finally flowed

Cricket: Intertwined legacies of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma will be hard to match

ICC Men’s T20 World Cup: Jasprit Bumrah – the masterful pacer and a balm for India’s nerves

ICC Men’s T20 World Cup: From Gulbadin Naib’s antics to USA’s rise – The Field’s memorable moments

Weightlifting, Olympics 2024: Mirabai Chanu hopes to set the bar along with podium finish in Paris

South Africa tour of India: Sneh Rana, Shafali Verma script 10-wicket win for hosts in one-off Test

Chess: Singapore to host World Championship match between D Gukesh and Ding Liren

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