International Cricket

T20 World Cup 2024 – Rahul Dravid – India’s win a ‘great testament to the fight in the team’

“We have fantastic talent in Indian cricket right now,” Dravid said after the final. “The energy and confidence the players have is at another level. We were aiming for an ICC trophy for a long time and I am sure the team will carry this confidence forward and will win a lot of trophies in the next four, five, six years because the ability and talent this bunch has… they lack nothing.

“There was a moment when we were feeling that we were working really hard and playing good cricket as well but we were not able to cross that hurdle. But after today I am very hopeful that these boys will take it forward and win a lot of trophies.”

Dravid took over from Ravi Shastri in November 2021. His initial term was for two years, which was then extended till T20 World Cup 2024. Under him, last year, India made it to the finals of the World Test Championship and the ODI World Cup, but the trophy eluded them. Until Saturday, the last ICC title they had won was the Champions Trophy in 2013.

When asked about India’s preparation for the T20 World Cup, Dravid said, “Honestly, this is a journey of two years. This is not a journey from just this T20 World Cup. When I think about the construction of this team, the kind of skills we wanted, the players we wanted, those discussions started in September [November] 2021.

“So it’s two years of work. This is not a work of just this World Cup. I think it culminated in this World Cup. The disappointment in Australia [at the 2022 T20 World Cup] and then the one-day World Cup – there’s so much that has gone into it. This feels like a journey of not just one month, it feels like a journey of two years. What we’ve tried to build, what we have tried to create, it feels like it has all come together here on a beautiful afternoon in Barbados.”

Dravid lauded his players and their fighting spirit, which was on display during the final. At one point, South Africa needed just 30 from as many balls with six wickets in hand, but India kept the applied pressure and squeezed a narrow win.

“I’m not usually short of words but I have felt really short of words over the last few hours,” he said. “I just could not be more proud of this team. The way we’ve had to fight in difficult situations and even today, I think it was a great testament to the fight in the team. Losing three wickets in the first six [overs], to be in the kind of position we were in with 30 balls to go. But the boys just kept fighting, they kept believing, and I think it’s just a great credit to them.

“As part of the coaching staff, I feel really grateful because we’re getting to enjoy these moments because of what they have done in a pressure situation. This is lovely to be a part of a dressing room like this and I think it’s a memory of a lifetime for me. So I’m really thankful and grateful to the team and everyone in the support staff who has made this possible.”

As a player, Dravid never won a World Cup. Under his captaincy, India were knocked out of the 2007 ODI World Cup in the first round. That tournament was also held in the West Indies but Dravid is not seeing the latest victory as a redemption.

“There is no redemption. I’m not one of those guys who think about redemption and those kind of things. As a player, I was not lucky enough to win a trophy. But I tried my best, I gave my best whenever I played and it wasn’t to be, and that happens, it’s part of sport. There are a lot of other players I know who have not been able to win a trophy. I was lucky to be given the opportunity to coach a team and I was lucky that this bunch of boys made it possible for me to win this trophy.

“It’s a nice feeling, but it’s not like I’m aiming for some redemption. It’s just a job that I was doing. I’ve loved doing this job. I have loved working with Rohit [Sharma] and this team. It’s been a great journey and I really enjoyed it.”

Earlier this year, Dravid had communicated to the BCCI his decision not to seek another tenure. That means he ends his coaching stint on a high but he is not looking to create “any legacy”.

“I just feel glad that we gave it the best we could and it’s not just me,” he said. “I think I’d like to really acknowledge the support staff that I’ve worked with. I think I’ve been lucky to have been working with exceptionally hard-working professionals, an intelligent bunch of coaches, and other support staff who have made it possible for us to create a fantastic environment, led by Rohit. I am glad that with a bit of luck, it resulted in this trophy.”

When asked what he would miss the most about Rohit, Dravid replied, “I will miss him as a person. Forget the cricket and captaincy and everything, but what really has impressed me is the kind of person he is, the kind of respect he has shown towards me, the kind of care and commitment he has had for the team, the kind of energy he has had to spend, and he’s never backed down from it.

“So for me, it’s the person that I will remember the most. He’ll be a great captain, he’ll be a great player and he will score runs and win trophies, but I think it’s who he is as a person that I will be most fond of.”

Going forward, India will be without Rohit and Virat Kohli as well in T20Is as both players have announced their retirements from the format. According to BCCI president Roger Binny, it will take “two to three years” for the team to fill that void.

“A lot of cricketers are coming through the IPL but it is going to take some time to bridge the gap,” Binny said after the final. “They have contributed so much. It’s going to take time. We will probably see in the next two-three years, the team coming back into its own without them.”

Meanwhile, the BCCI has started its search for the next coach, with Gautam Gambhir on top of its wishlist. But Binny did not divulge much about it.

“Nothing concrete has come yet. Gautam Gambhir has a lot of experience. He has worked with teams. He played Test matches, ODIs, T20s. Let’s see.”

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