Rahul Dravid: ‘We haven’t played any scary cricket in this final’

Rahul Dravid: 'We haven't played any scary cricket in this final'

India fell “30-40 runs short” of a good total in the final, but it was not because of a fearful approach in the middle overs – that is the line Rahul Dravid took after his team’s defeat to Australia in 2023. World Cup title fight in Ahmedabad.

“I don’t agree that we played with fear. We had 80 runs in 10 overs. We had lost wickets, and when you lose wickets you have to change your strategy,” Dravid said in the post-match press conference.

Rohit Sharma’s 31-ball 47 had set India on track, and the team reached 80 at the end of the powerplay. But they managed only four boundaries in the rest of the innings to finally finish on 240. Dravid attributed the slowdown to losing wickets at regular intervals, and not a lack of intent.

“We haven’t played any scary cricket in this final. In between, they bowled very well and we had lost three wickets. So it took a period of consolidation, and every time we thought we could attack, we would lose a wicket,” he said . “If you lose ground, you have to rebuild. We didn’t set out to play defensively.”

While Australia eventually moved towards the target with seven overs to spare and six wickets in hand, Dravid estimated that the game might have played out differently had India managed 30 to 40 more runs on a surface he believed to be more difficult. to bat in the afternoon.

“I just felt like the ball stopped a little more in the afternoon than in the evening. I felt like the ball came to the bat a lot better in the evening. There was a period where the ball stopped and we couldn’t get boundaries. We were able to rotate the strike but we couldn’t get those boundaries.

“If we had gotten to 280-290 and they were 60 for 3, then it could have been a very different game. But 240, I think they were always within striking distance of getting there.”

“I’ve been involved in three… and I don’t think we played very well that day. I thought we came up a little short in Adelaide, in the semi-final. [of the T20 World Cup, against England]. We lost the first day at the World Test Championship. [final]. We didn’t bowl very well after Australia lost three points. And we don’t bat well enough here.

“There’s no particular reason that you can pinpoint. I didn’t feel at any point in this game that there were any nerves or that the guys were intimidated by the game. I thought the energy and mental space that the guys had in leading this particular game It was right.”

Dravid’s two-year contract as head coach expires this month, but he has refused to become involved in talks about his future. He praised captain Rohit Sharma for his leadership and batting during the World Cup.

“I think he has been an exceptional leader, I always felt that he had led this team fantastically well. He has given a lot of his time and energy in the locker room to the boys. There has been a lot of planning, a lot of strategy, he has always been committed to those things.

“His batting too, I thought it was fantastic the way he set the tone for us. We knew we wanted to play a certain way, we wanted to play positive, attacking cricket and he was very committed to doing that.” “He wanted to lead by example and I thought he was excellent throughout the tournament. I can’t speak highly enough of him, as a person and as a leader.”

If this were Dravid’s last post-match press conference as coach, it would not have been easy to face; Dravid, who had walked towards the press conference room even as Australia received their winners’ medals, admitted that emotions were running high in the Indian dressing room.

“There were a lot of emotions in that locker room. It was hard to watch as a coach, because I know how hard these guys have worked, what they’ve put in, the sacrifices they’ve made. But that’s sports. It happens. It can happen. And the best team won that day. I’m sure the sun will rise tomorrow morning. We will learn from it, reflect and move on. That’s what you do. As athletes. You have great achievements in sport and some low moments in sport. And “You keep going. You don’t stop.”

Yash Jha is a multi-platform content producer and presenter for ESPNcricinfo