Rahul Dravid finally gets his redemption

Dravid was handed the T20 World Cup trophy by Virat Kohli before being thrown up and down by the members of the team in a huddle on Saturday. In the West Indies.
Last Updated : 30 June 2024, 15:49 IST

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Barbados: Would you like to put a face to a man who has overcome his worst nightmare? If yes, pick Rahul Dravid. If not, why not? You couldn’t find a better representative for a story of redemption. 

Dravid was emotionally flogged by a yet-to-evolve Indian fanbase in 2007 after the team unceremoniously crashed out in the West Indies. 

Dravid was handed the T20 World Cup trophy by Virat Kohli before being thrown up and down by the members of the team in a huddle on Saturday. In the West Indies.

He looked at the trophy as if looking at a newborn, trying to digest all of the curves and edges, before doing the most un-Dravid-like thing of all. 

He held the trophy aloft and let out a series of roars which were as memorable in Barbados as would have been in Bengaluru. 

‘Indiranagar ka gunda’ let his guard down in public view. He didn’t often let people see the inner workings of his mind or the swirls of emotions, but as he shuddered in excitement with the only ICC trophy he has ever had the joy of lifting, he was in plain view - young and old at the same time. 

Dravid is a winner in the strictest sense of the word. He was built for success, and so when he didn’t find that trophy for all those years, it must have stung. 

He says he doesn’t live in the past and redemption isn’t something he was after. In that moment, though, you saw the tears welling up in him and from others around him. He shook the trophy some more almost as if to say ‘take that!’, to say ‘thank god’, to say ‘finally!’. 

"He, more than any one of us, deserved that trophy,” said Rohit Sharma at his final press conference as India’s T20I captain. “What he has done for Indian cricket for the past 20-25 years, I think this was the only thing that was left in his cabinet. I am very happy with all of us on behalf of the entire team that we could actually do this for him. You saw how proud he was and how excited he was. Really grateful to the occasion for this to happen as well.”

Life has an interesting way of coming full circle. It takes time sometimes, 17 years in this case, and sometimes it doesn’t even come around, but when it does, one must take time to sit in the moment, bask in the glory, and extend a warm embrace to all the moments in between. 

Between 2007 and 2024, Dravid went from captaining the Indian team at that infamous World Cup to retiring from all formats a few years later to becoming the head coach of the Indian team.

He knew this coaching gig was going to be more daunting for he had to let go of his ideals, his biases, his ways of yore, and adapt to the youthful essence of the team. In that sense, this could well be the most difficult innings of his life, and that’s saying a lot given how many of those he has padded up. 

Taking over after the successful reign of Ravi Shastri, Dravid, who had found success as the Under-19 coach, got on board in 2021. Since then, he has seen India lose a World Test Championship Final and a 50-over World Cup final.

That couldn’t have been easy, but the man is made of sterner stuff, constantly looking ahead despite having to lean back on the past to learn. But, the hardest task for Dravid, would have been to walk into a dressing room full of mostly young superstars, their egos, their experiences, and remain equanimous and not project. 

His time in the dressing room as a player was vastly different from this. They were superstars, some even demigods, but they were not built to be sensitive, these were hard men. This was a new generation, it needed a gentle hand so Dravid had to soften himself. 

“Rahul bhai has worked hard with this team for the last 3 years because in those three years, he had to curb his instincts, and suppress them many times,” said Rohit. “It is not easy to match the wavelength of the boys. So, Rahul bhai suppressed himself. He understood what the boys wanted. He made that his priority. So, it is not easy for anyone to do all this. Rahul bhai did that for the whole team. He understood what the boys needed, what is necessary to give to the boys. Because eventually, we have to do the work, Rahul bhai is not batting out there anymore. He understood that.”

That’s a good man right there, a man who puts his head down and gets to work. He won’t be doing that as the Indian coach anymore, but that does not mean this is the last chapter of Dravid in Indian cricket. There is more to be written. Winners win, and once they’re done winning, they do it all over again. 

Maybe, just maybe, that's because the demons never really leave. 

Published 30 June 2024, 15:49 IST

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