safari staff
20 Nov 2023 | 05:41 AM

When the dust settles, we can reflect on what a good campaign it has been: Dravid

Despite a dominant World Cup campaign, India could not cross the final hurdle to claim the title

India fell short at the final hurdle, with Australia pipping them in Ahmedabad to win their sixth World Cup title. For many senior players like Virat Kohli and skipper Rohit Sharma, this very well could be their last crack at winning the World Cup.

That, however, does not take away from the fact that India were brilliant in the World Cup campaign, winning 10 games in a row to get to the final. Head coach Rahul Dravid says it is important that it is acknowledged once the dust settles over this heartbreaking loss.

"We were the favourites because we were playing well, but I think you can recognize that Australia is also a very good cricket team. They also came here with eight wins on the bounce, so we were under no illusions that this was going to be a tough contest," Dravid told reporters after the World Cup final.

"We were confident that if we played well, we'd get the right result, but unfortunately, on the day, they played better than us. And no, I think, like I said, it's for us - of course, there's going to be disappointment. There is disappointment in the dressing room, and there is disappointment among the boys and among the support staff. But certainly, I think when the dust settles, we can reflect on what has been a really good campaign."

At the same time, Dravid is not thinking way too far ahead to 2027, where some of the stars may not be there.

"I'm not really thinking about 2027 and who's going to be there and who's not going to be there. There's a lot of time for that. A lot of water will flow under the bridge before that. There'll be a lot of time for that. But yeah, so to be honest, I just do not know how to answer this question because I have just walked off," Dravid said.

Dravid was full of praise for Rohit Sharma, who gave India brisk starts in almost all the matches. Even in the final, he scored 47 off just 31 deliveries to set the tone for India, but the rest of the batters, could not cash in on it. Rohit eventually finished as the second-highest run-getter in the tournament with 597 runs, only second to Virat Kohli, who hit a record-breaking 765.

Speaking of Rohit, Dravid said, "I think he's been an exceptional leader. You know, Rohit's really led this team fantastically well. I think he's certainly got the dressing room. I just think he's given so much of his time and energy in the dressing room to the boys. He's always been available for any of our conversations any of our meetings. 

"Sometimes there's been a lot of planning, a lot of strategy that goes in. He's always committed to those things. He's given a lot of his personal time, energy into this campaign. His batting as well, I thought it was fantastic, the way he set the tone for us. We knew that we wanted to play a certain way. We wanted to play a positive attacking brand of cricket. He was very committed to doing that and he wanted to lead by example. 

"I thought right through the tournament, he was quite superb in doing that. And yeah, I just can't speak more highly of him as a person and as a leader."

Assessing the conditions at the Narendra Modi Stadium, Dravid felt his side was 40 runs short but also credited the Australian bowlers for keeping his batters quiet, drying up the boundaries in the middle-overs.

"I think we fell about 30-40 runs short. It's not that we were looking to bat it out. I thought they bowled well through that period. I thought it just felt like the ball was stopping in the afternoon a little bit more than it did in the evening," Dravid said. 

"Not that there was a lot of dew, to be honest, but just felt like the ball came on to the bat a lot better in the evening. There was that period where I think the ball was stopping. We weren't able to get boundaries. We were rotating the strike, but we weren't able to hit those boundaries. And yeah, there was a conscious effort to try and take the game deep, but we kept losing wickets. 

"We just lost wickets just when we felt that we built a partnership and we can start going. We lost a wicket, we lost Virat [Kohli], then we lost Jaddu [Ravindra Jadeja] and then we lost [KL] Rahul. So, we just kept losing wickets at critical intervals and probably felt that we were about 40 runs short. I mean, I know in the end it looked like they would have chased even 40 runs more. 

"But if we had got to 280, 290, and they were 60 for 3, then it might have been a very different game. But with 240, I think they were always one partnership away from getting there and yeah, they batted really well. I thought Travis Head played exceptionally well. He got through that initial period. We were a little bit unlucky. He beat the bat a few times. Stuff could have gone our way in that situation, but once he got through that, I thought he played really well."

The Indian bowling unit is considered to be one of the best in the world. Some even call it the best attack India has ever had. Dravid believes it would be unfair for just him or his coach staff to take all the credit for their excellent showing.

"I think bowling attack, to be honest, I don't think we can take all the credit for the creation of this bowling attack because it's been around for a long time," Dravid said.  

"It's been there. So, I think a lot of the three fast bowlers who bowled for us right through this tournament have been around for a while, really experienced fast bowlers as well. But certainly, I think some of the tactics and the strategies and some of the execution that we saw over the last tournament and what we've seen recently has been absolutely fantastic. 

"A lot of planning and effort goes into it. Paras [Mhambrey] works really closely with them. We've got our sports science team that really looks after their fitness side of things. So obviously any fast bowlers, you know, keeping them on the path and working with them requires planning, requires strategy and more importantly, it requires a willingness from the boys to put in the effort and the hard work and you know I think just a credit to Booms [Bumrah] and Shami and Siraj. 

"They've been absolutely brilliant for us right through this tournament, as has been Jaddu and Kuldeep [Yadav] and even Ash [R Ashwin] in the one game that he played. So yeah, bowling's been truly spectacular right through this tournament. Probably today was one of those days where we just didn't give them enough runs to be able to work with."

India will now turn their attention to the T20 World Cup in USA and West Indies next year. The preparation for the tournament gets underway right away, with India and Australia clashing in a five-match T20I series starting November 23. 

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