Dravid confirms T20 World Cup will be his last assignment as India coach

Dravid said he thoroughly enjoyed the last two years in charge of the side. File photo: AFP/R Satish Babu

New York: Rahul Dravid on Monday confirmed that the T20 World Cup will be his last tournament as head coach of the Indian cricket team.

Dravid, who took charge of the team in November, 2021, was not expected to reapply for the high-profile job after the Board of Control for Cricket in India invited applications last month.

Speaking to reporters ahead of India's World Cup opener against Ireland, Dravid said he enjoyed every bit of his coaching tenure.

"Every tournament is important. Every game that I've coached for India has been very important for me. So for me this is no different just because it is going to be the last one that I'm in charge of," he said when asked if this tournament held more significance as it was his last one in charge of the team.

The former Indian captain had taken charge of the team following the 2021 T20 World Cup.

"I love doing the job. I've really enjoyed coaching India and I think it's a truly special job to do. I enjoyed working with this team and it's a great bunch of boys to work with but yeah but just considering, unfortunately just the kind of schedules and where I find myself in the stage in my life, I don't think I'll be able to reapply.

"So yeah, it'll be my last one but having said that it's no different for me to be very honest. From the first day I took the job, I always felt that every game was important and every game mattered and that will not change," he asserted.

India will be aiming to win an elusive ICC trophy here and give a perfect farewell to the coach.

Dravid kept his cards close to his chest when asked about India's opening combination for the tournament opener. Rohit Sharma is expected to open alongside Virat Kohli but Yashasvi Jaiswal is also an option.

"We've got options, so we are obviously not going to reveal our cards just yet, but certainly we've got options. We have Rohit and Jaiswal and Virat opened in the IPL as well.

"We picked the team keeping in mind that we have three options and we could pick and choose what we wanted depending on the conditions and kind of combination we go into these games with," said Dravid.

The drop-in pitches with variable bounce and slow outfield at the Nassau County ground have come under the scanner. Dravid said his team is not complaining and will look to adapt to the prevailing conditions.

"We had three practice sessions here. From the third session onwards, the wicket became better. But a wicket is a wicket. We don't want to label it as bad or good. It is a wicket and you have to manage and you have to adjust to it. So we will not complain about the wicket."

A score of 200 was par in the recently concluded IPL but over here, it seems like a winning score.

"As we talk about T20 cricket, maybe we won't be able to play like that in this tournament. Maybe in this venue. We will hopefully play in many venues. So, it will be different there. So, it will be important to adapt."

South Africa captain Aiden Markram also said after the low-scoring game against Sri Lanka on Monday that it was a tough surface to bat on. Dravid reiterated that his players will have adapt to the varied conditions.

"I didn't watch the match today. We will see the recording. But the score has been a little low (Sri Lanka were shot out for 77). I have no idea what exactly happened. But if it is like that, then you will have to fight and make 140.

"Maybe that will be the winning score. In some matches, there will be a winning score of 200. So whatever the score is, you will have to react and adapt."

Dravid defended the performance of the players in the recent ICC events where the team failed to cross the finishing line. India lost the WTC final and ODI World Cup final to Australia last year, extending their title drought on the global stage. Their last ICC title came in 2013.

"To be very honest with you, I think we've actually played really well in these World Cup tournaments. In terms of our consistency, we've been very consistent," said Dravid when asked if the past defeats have made the players better prepared for this event.

"Obviously making the semifinal in Australia (2022). The World Test Championship is slightly different, it's not one tournament, but it's a whole cycle but playing extremely well in that cycle to get to the final there again.

"And then we know the 50-over World Cup where we had a great run and went into the final. So, in terms of our consistency and quality of cricket that we have played in these big tournaments, we've been right up there with some of the best teams."

The team will once again strive for that level of consistency and hopefully go all the way this time, said the coach.

"Yes, we probably haven't been able to get across the line in the knockout game. So, we just probably haven't been able to execute in that last phase. So, hopefully we play good cricket to get ourselves into those positions again and then maybe play good cricket on the day to cross the line.

"The important thing is when you start these tournaments is not to think about that, is to actually think about getting into those positions. You have to find yourselves in those positions where you are pushing for glory and that's all you can do as a group and as a team," said Dravid.

He is also missing the buzz that is usually associated with a world event but hoped that would change when India play their games here.

"The buzz that you have around these events, obviously with cricket not being, say, one of the major sports in this country. So you don't kind of feel that kind of buzz over here. But hopefully once our game starts and a lot of the Indian fans do start coming in, you start seeing that similar kind of excitement." 

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