If media reports are to be considered, current Indian Cricket national team head coach Ravi Shastri might part ways with the team after the T20 World Cup, scheduled to be held later this year, in UAE. Other members of the coaching setup including the likes of bowling Coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar and batting coach Vikram Rathour could be leaving as well. This has left the door ajar for current U-19 coach Rahul Dravid to step up and join the big leagues.
Ravi Shastri came to the backroom staff of the Indian team in 2014 as the Team director after the horrid tour of England, where Indians lost 4-0. His coaching stint started in 2017 after Anil Kumble stepped down from the position, post the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. It was reported at the time that the duo of Kohli-Shastri had plotted the exit of Kumble with the Indian skipper not comfortable with the legendary leg spinner and his coaching tactics.
Under Shastri’s first tenure as the coach, India agonizingly lost the 2019 World Cup Semi-Final against New Zealand on a reserve day to once again crash out from the knockouts of an ICC tournament.
Despite the unceremonious exit from the quadrennial event, the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) comprising Shantha Rangaswamy, Kapil Dev, and Anshuman Gaekwad, on the advice of skipper Kohli in August 2019, unanimously decided to reappoint Ravi Shastri as the head coach of Team India for the period from September 2019 till the end of the T20 World Cup 2021.
However, much like the heartbreak of 2019, India went down against the Kiwis again in the World Test Championship Final, despite dominating the teams in the cycle throughout. Since then, calls have been raised to replace Shastri with a coach that can keep Kohli’s occasional excess aggression in check.
Rahul Dravid is arguably the best candidate to replace Shastri for the job. He has shown that he can develop the players and bring the best out of them. The enviable depth of the Indian cricket team has been built slowly and steadily by Rahul Dravid.
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The ‘A’ team cricketing setup and the U-19 teams have been developed by Dravid through a sustained coaching pedagogy. He recently coached the Indian team that played against Sri Lanka while the senior team was preparing for the Test series in England. As the second-string Indian team won the ODI series, it went down in the T20Is after half the team had to sit out after a Covid bout in the bio-bubble.
When asked about joining the National team as the head coach after the series ended, Dravid remarked, “I have enjoyed this experience. I have not thought of anything far ahead. To be honest, I am happy doing what I am doing.”
He further added, “For me, I have not given it any other thought except this tour and getting through this tour and enjoying the experience. I love working with these guys, it’s pretty great. And no, I haven’t given it any thought. You know, there are a lot of challenges doing a full-time role so I don’t know.”
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While Dravid hasn’t made up his mind yet, fans around the country will be hoping that he steps up and takes the charge. India has gone over 8 years now, without winning an ICC trophy and while Shastri will have one last crack at it in UAE, BCCI will have to start looking for new alternatives, and Dravid appears to be head and shoulders above the competition.