One of the reasons for the Indian cricket team’s tremendous success at the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023, besides the brilliant form and sensational performances of the top players, is the management team of coach Rahul Dravid and skipper Rohit Sharma that has made things possible for India so far.
With Dravid moving the pieces from the background and Rohit Sharma executing the plans on the field, India have set a record by winning 10 successive matches to storm into the final where they will be facing five-time winners Australia in Ahmedabad on Sunday.
One only has to attend regular press conferences and go through interviews given by both Indian captain Rohit Sharma and Head Coach Rahul Dravid to understand the kind of relationship they share in the Indian cricket team.
It is this symbiotic relationship of camaraderie, mutual respect and admiration that helped them to jell together as a unit to bring up a team that has stormed into the final of the World Cup with an all-win record, decimating strong opponents with ease and setting themselves as the favourites to win the title when they take on five-time champions Australia in Ahmedabad on Sunday.
Both of them have mutual respect and have never shied away from talking about it, both are always ready to give each other credit and regularly maintain a communication channel between them and the players. But the most important aspect of their combination is that both appear on the same page when it comes to deciding how the Indian team should execute its game on the field.
just before India’s semi-final clash with New Zealand, the India skipper had credited head coach Rahul Dravid for backing players to the hilt during the time they were away from the game due to injuries, in the build-up phase and also during the event.
“As a captain, if you have decided this is how you want to play then you must have clarity. You have to back the players to the hilt. We have backed certain players whom we have given certain roles. We’ll back players and stand with them. We have to give credit to Rahul Dravid for buying into that thought and not shuffling much when it doesn’t come off. We’ll continue to do that in future as well. Role clarity and giving guys the freedom,” Rohit said in the pre-match press conference ahead of the semi-final with New Zealand.
Dravid on his part has praised Rohit for his leadership and aggressive batting that has eased the pressure on fellow opener Shubman Gill and the middle order.
“Rohit has certainly been a leader, you know, without a doubt. I think he’s led by example both on and off the field,” Dravid said.
“Some of the starts that he’s given us, the way he’s cracked open games for us. A lot of times people have looked at one, I mean, I can’t go into the specific games, I’m sure that you will be able to look into it, but there have been some games where it could have been tricky for us, but the fact that he’s been able to get us to those kinds of starts has literally cracked open the game.
“So, in the end, it’s actually looked easy, but on reflection as a coaching staff, when we looked at it, we’ve realised the impact his innings’ have had on games like that, that have made it look easy for us and certainly made it easier for the guys who followed in that department,” Draivd said of Rohit in a pre-match press conference.
Under the Rohit Sharma-Rahul Dravid management, India built up a formidable team with a certain philosophy and style of play and they had gone about testing and assembling players fitting into those roles in the last couple of years.
The relationship between Rahul Dravid and Rohit Sharma started when the Mumbai batter made his India debut under the Karnataka legend’s captaincy and blossomed when the latter stayed at the National Cricket Academy (NCA), of which Dravid was the boss. to recuperate from an injury. It had strengthened after Dravid became the chief coach in November 2021 and Rohit took over from Virat Kohli soon after.
It has been fostered over the last couple of years as they went about building a strong Indian team, selecting players, assigning them specific roles and then backing them till they succeeded.
They are both contrasting personalities — Dravid is known to be very serious with a wry sense of humour who had built his reputation on hard work by diligently adhering to a strong technique while Rohit Sharma is laidback and has ridden his abundant talent to develop into the premier ODI batter in the world.
Both enjoy working with each other as they share the same philosophy when it comes to the Indian cricket team.
“As far as Rahul bhai is concerned, I’ve huge respect for him for what he is as a person firstly then obviously as a cricketer. He doesn’t want any communication gap among players, support staff or anyone else for that matter. His number one rule is that whatever the matter is it will be communicated to the concerned individual. We’ve got an open relationship, we keep on talking about things and players. I’ve really enjoyed my time with him,” Rohit said in a recent interview with a YouTube channel.
The main reason for their success is that while he is mostly serious and has a studious demeanour, Dravid gives Rohit Sharma the space to express himself as a batter and a captain.
“Working with Rahul Bhai (Dravid) is fantastic. We know how he has played his cricket, hard and tough. At the same time, there is a sense of relaxation as well. It’s important to keep the atmosphere on the field light and cheerful. When you do your job on the field which is so demanding, you need to have an atmosphere where you can relax, chill around,” the India captain once said.
The 2023 ICC Men’s World Cup is where the cricket world has really experienced the true might of this combination. If they manage to guide India to title triumph in the final against Australia in Ahmedabad on Sunday, the Rahul Dravid-Rohit Sharma combine will achieve its first major target.
Helping the Indian team transcend the boundaries and replicate the success in the other formats will be their next target..