DUBAI: For a man who emphasizes “process” more than results, Rahul Dravid’s journey as head coach of Team India, which led to the T20 World Cup, has been put to the test. When he took over from Ravi Shastri after the T20 World Cup debacle, India aimed to play a specific style of cricket, as well as have a stable core for the XI of play.
Even though Rohit Sharma took over the captain of all formats by March, Dravid remained the captain of the ship the entire time. The unavailability of top players has prompted India to field seven captains in all formats over the past eight months. For a man who has always insisted on the need for consistency, Dravid’s journey as a Team India manager has been ironically upside down.
Unlike the previous team management, when then captain Virat Kohli called the shots with Shastri working primarily on executing plans and managing players, Dravid was in the driver’s seat by default. From attending selection meetings to managing the workload of its top players, India’s cricket “wall” has endured the toughest environments.
Bilateral T20I cricket results indicate India’s supremacy in the format. However, underlying anxiety over squad composition cannot be ignored as the T20 World Cup approaches.
In addition to the regular overwhelming hype around India-Pakistan matches, the Asian Cup here is significant for Team India to finally stabilize with a host of players.
When the T20I home series against the West Indies ended in February, Dravid said he didn’t want to pull the net too wide for the T20 World Cup. Still, India ended up playing musical chairs with a myriad of players in every position in the game’s XI.
“Rohit is a player for all formats and it is unrealistic to expect everyone (readers of all formats) to be available for each series. We need to make sure they are fit for all the big tournaments and peak at that time, ”Dravid told Ferozeshah Kotla before the home T20I series kicked off in June, right after the IPL ended.
Rahul Dravid (TOI photo)
“Dravid is literally the captain of the ship. Recruiters have had to look for captains at almost every selection meeting over the past eight months. Dravid took part in the selection meetings. He has been very explicit about some players even though the selectors may have had reservations. He had planned to play with an established combination from the England tour in July, but that didn’t happen. This Asian Cup is the tournament where he would finally try to make his plans come true, “a source told TOI.
While Team India first found themselves in Dubai on Wednesday, Dravid was forced to stay in Bengaluru after contracting Covid-19. This is how Indian cricket was in 2022. People flying around the world on last minute bookings to replace established staff. The Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) didn’t want to take any chances. Although Rohit and his deputy designate KL Rahul are back on the team together after years, the council felt the need to have another wise and prominent figure in the head of NCA VVS Laxman in the build until Dravid recovers and he rushes to work on his plans.
Dravid, the head coach, would always have a big say in managing the team. Still, not even Dravid expected to have to be behind the wheel on this trip.
Maybe it’s time for Rohit to emerge as the true leader of the team and make firm decisions.