2007: – India was seething with rage. After 25 years, this was for the first time that the Indian cricket team bowed out in the initial stages of the Cricket World Cup, without giving any tough fight. A shock defeat to minnows from Bangladesh, followed by a nasty drubbing against Sri Lanka, infuriated the cricket fans back home like nothing else.
One man, who was a witness to this tragic event, was made the scapegoat for the disaster, along with the coach, who was actually responsible for this mess in the first place. A few months later, he stepped down as the team captain.
11 years later,
2018: The stage was almost the same, only the format and the venue had changed, but so had this man. He was no more a player, but a mentor for the team, and had seen the team losing the title by a whisker only 2 years ago. But not this time. Armed to the T, his boys made the world take notice of their brilliance, not allowing any team to dominate them for even a fraction of a second.
Facing the very team, they had earlier pummeled in the group stage, this Indian team went out all guns blazing, bundling the team from Australia for a mere 216, before romping home with a brilliant 8 wicket victory. The boys had done it; India became the champions of the Under 19 Cricket World Cup for a record 4th time. The man behind it, however, refused to take any credit for himself, giving it all to the team instead. After all, he won something as a coach, which he couldn’t as a player, or the captain.
He had his redemption with the win, and that is something very few people in this world can claim. But that’s Rahul Dravid for you. He isn’t nicknamed ‘The Wall’ for nothing.
Rahul Dravid was a promising cricketer right from the start. He could’ve made his international debut with the 1996 World Cup, but for bad luck. However, the moment he was inducted into the Indian team, there was no looking back. His brilliance, both as a batsman and as a teammate, was impeccable, and soon he established himself into the guy one could depend on.
Dravid’s single-minded focus on the ultimate goal, i.e. giving the Under 19 team a memorable win was something that worked extremely well when he was appointed the coach of the U19 cricket team in 2014.
Interestingly, the unmistakable trait of Dravid, i.e. not letting the emotions get the better of him was something that he passed on very well to the boys in blue in this edition.
Two statements of his before and after the match, explain how inspiring a man Dravid is:
1.) FOCUS: Given that nine members from the Under 19 team were soon to go under the hammer for the IPL auction, it wasn’t an easy job in keeping them focused on the Under 19 Cricket World Cup. But not for Dravid, who made sure that the auction didn’t have a big impact on his players, having gone through the experience himself. In his own words, “The auction is not something the boys can control. One or two auctions won’t really have a long-term impact on their careers…………There is an auction every year, but not every year will they have an opportunity to play for India in possibly a World Cup semi-final. That doesn’t come very often.”
2.) Humility: As the Under 19 team broke into the celebrations after winning the coveted trophy, it was Dravid who joined them, but refrained to take any credit for himself.
His humility won everyone’s hearts when he said, ‘It is surprising, that instead of them, I’m getting all the attention!’ Only a true sportsman can do this, and we shall be forever indebted to Shri Rahul Dravid for his immense contributions to the field of cricket, both as a player and now as a mentor. India owes you a lot, Mr. Dravid!