Dravid handed Team India verdict post 2023 WC amid tensions over new contract | Cricket

Rahul Dravid’s tenure as Team India’s head coach has been a mixed bag of good and bad for Indian cricket. Under the legendary former India captain, Team India kickstarted a new era with Rohit Sharma as skipper in all formats and while India’s dominance at home continued, the trophy drought for the side in ICC tournaments continued. Additionally, the side’s experiments with playing XIs – partly a result of multiple injuries to first-choice players – also put Dravid and Rohit under significant scanner.

Indian cricket team head coach Rahul Dravid during a press conference ahead of the Asia Cup 2023(PTI)
Indian cricket team head coach Rahul Dravid during a press conference ahead of the Asia Cup 2023(PTI)

And ahead of the much-awaited ODI World Cup at home in October-November, news agency PTI has reported that Dravid’s future with the Indian team could hang in the balance should India not reach the title clash, as a mere semi-final appearance may fall short of expectations. In such a scenario, the BCCI may embark on a search for a new coach, leaving everyone intrigued as to whether ‘The Wall’ would consider renewing his contract, either partially or entirely, should Board supremo Jay Shah extend a fresh offer.

It is further reported that if Dravid expresses interest, he could potentially continue as the coach for the red-ball format, given the proximity of South Africa (away) and England (home series) tours to the World Cup. Adopting a model similar to England, where separate coaches oversee limited overs and Test formats, might be a feasible option for India in the upcoming cycle post World Cup. Dravid has received breaks from his coaching duties to recuperate, recognizing the taxing nature of his high-pressure role that often involves constant travel.

While candidates like Ashish Nehra, a successful IPL coach, could be fitting choices, sources close to the former left-arm seamer have indicated that he’s currently “not interested” due to his contractual commitment with the Gujarat Titans, extending until the end of the 2025 season.

“Suppose India wins the World Cup, Dravid himself might not want a renewal as he would like to end his stint on a high. But if you ask me, post World Cup, the BCCI should seriously think of having separate coaches for separate formats. They should ask Rahul to continue as red ball coach,” a former BCCI office-bearer told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

Debatable calls

In the previous year’s T20 World Cup, Dravid made the decision to keep the top-three batters intact, comprising Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Virat Kohli. While Kohli justified the head coach’s decision with some remarkable displays in the tournament but Rohit and Rahul’s performances during the event fell short of expectations. Dravid’s decision to exclude Ravichandran Ashwin from the squad for the World Test Championship final appeared questionable as well.

The absence of a right-arm spinner, be it a finger spinner or a wrist spinner, in the current World Cup squad, as well as the inclusion of KL Rahul without a concrete demonstration of his match fitness, are choices that could potentially pose challenges and have repercussions in the future.

Dravid has seen up-close and personal what an unsuccessful World Cup campaign can do to a head coach in 2007; under his captaincy, India faced a shocking exit in the group stages of the edition in West Indies, following which Greg Chappell had no option but to announce his resignation.

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