WORLD CHAMPIONS

This was a two-year journey: Dravid on India's World Cup win

Under Dravid, India also became the No.1 team in all three formats
Under Dravid, India also became the No.1 team in all three formats ©Getty

Amid the euphoric celebrations following the World Cup, Rahul Dravid let loose and and vented his emotions. In a moment of exhilaration, he let it rip by lifting the World Cup with wild celebrations. This was not the usual Dravid one knew. Typically reserved, taciturn, and a behind-the-scenes man he allowed his emotions to take over, giving them free rein as he exuberantly hoisted the trophy.

He is one of those legends who has not had a World Cup Trophy but once the emotions settled, he was back to his normal self. It was his redemption time for the debacle here in the West Indies in 2007, when he was the skipper and for the Ahmedabad heartbreak in 2023, when he was the coach. But he did not believe in the idea of redemption.

"There is no redemption, I am not one of those guys who thinks about those kinds of things," he declared matter-of-factly. "As a player I was not lucky enough to win a trophy but I tried my best. It was not to be." He did, however, concede winning the World Cup was an emotional moment. "I am not usually short on words, I have really felt short on words in the last few hours. I cannot be more proud of this win, and the way we had to fight the situation," the coach said.

"To be in the kind of situation we were in with 30 balls to go... the boys just kept fighting and kept believing. It's credit to them and members of the coaching staff. I feel really grateful. We need to enjoy these moments because of what they have done in the pressure situation. It's phenomenal and is lovely to be part of this team. It's a memory of a lifetime." Dravid said.

After the celebrations were completed, Dravid took all members to the pitch and thanked each and every member of the side taking names, including the masseurs. "I have been lucky to have had such a support staff. They are an exceptionally hardworking and intelligent bunch of coaches who made it possible. They helped us create a fantastic environment, led by Rohit (Sharma). With a bit of luck, it resulted in this trophy."

One of the hallmarks of his coaching tenure was his perfect professional equation with Rohit. Both had tremendous respect for each other. Rohit announced that the World Cup Trophy was dedicated to him. "He, more than any one of us, deserved that trophy. 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 that we could actually do this for him. You saw how proud he was and how excited he was. Really grateful for the occasion for this to happen as well," the skipper said.

"He's done so much for Indian cricket when he played. Over the last three years, he has worked hard with this team. He has had to suppress his instincts on many occasions because it is not that easy for the boys to match his wavelength. So Rahul bhai suppressed himself. He learnt what the boys wanted. He prioritised that. Rahul bhai did that for the whole team. He tried to understand what the boys wanted, and what is needed to be given to them. Because eventually we have to do the job, Rahul bhai can't go and bat.

"For three years he has provided the boys role clarity. The boys who are not with the team, he has stayed in touch with them: keep telling him what is up with the team, when they can come back, what their role will be when they come back. Rahul is a studious person. He was the first one to take care of this when he came: we have to tell the boys what we want from them," Rohit said.

Dravid returned the favour saying he will miss Rohit as a person as he leaves this Indian team. "I will miss him as a person. Forget his cricket and the captain he is, what impressed me is the kind of person he is. The respect he showed (for me) and care and commitment he had for the team. Great batter and great captain apart, I will remember the person most."

Dravid said the triumph was the result of two years of planning and not because of hard work of just one month. "This is a journey of two years," he disclosed. "I think about the construction of the team, the players we wanted and the balance we wanted. The discussions started when we started in September 2022. It culminated in the World Cup but honestly the disappointment of Australia (in the 2022 World Cup where they reached semifinals) and World Cup final loss (in India last year) also contributed. This feels like a two-year journey, not one month. It all came together here on a beautiful afternoon here in Barbados."

Dravid was also confident that the win was just the beginning of many trophies to come because the team is exceptionally talented, confident and committed. "What I can say is that the current bunch is a fantastic talent. The energy and confidence levels are on a different plane. I hope, I wish and I am confident that this is just the beginning. I am sure they will win many more in the next four-five years. There is no shortage of talent in this group. There was a moment when we felt that we are working hard and playing well but we are unable to cross the line. After this I am confident many more will follow."

Dravid took over the reins of the team in November 2021. Under his tenure, India won 11 of the 14 bilateral T20I series, eight of the 11 ODI series, and six of the eight Test series. India made it to two finals and two semi-finals of the four ICC world events and they had also reached the final of the World Test Championship in June 2023, when they lost to Australia. They also lost the 2023 World Cup final, again to Australia. Under him, India also became the No.1 team in all three formats. Currently, they are No.1 in both limited-overs formats and No.2 in Test format, after Australia.

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