Rahul Dravid was the part of the World Cup Team India that lost the final in 2003 to Australia. Photo Courtesy: Twitter
Rahul Dravid was the part of the World Cup Team India that lost the final in 2003 to Australia. The Trophy remained elusive, but does Dravid need a Trophy to prove himself? Photo Courtesy: Twitter

There is just one word every ‘Dravidian’ has in mind today after India’s loss in the final of ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup against West Indies at Dhaka: “Why?” Once again, the World Cup trophy goes on to elude Rahul Dravid. He is easily one of the few legendary names in the sport who do not need a World Cup to demonstrate the impact they made with their contribution for their respective nation. However, such statements are written on paper, and do not fill the void that is left in a career of an international player following his retirement. Dravid’s impact makes him stand out as a giant of Indian cricket, and he keeps influencing Indian cricket in the best possible way. When Ishan Kishan and co. made it to the final in the World Cup, there was a hope to watch Dravid hold the coveted trophy, not as player but as coach. That way he could have put his hands on the only ICC Trophy of his career. Unfortunately, that was not to happen today. FULL Cricket Scorecard: India vs West Indies, ICC Under-19 World Cup 2016 Final at Dhaka

When the likes of Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman agreed to be a part of cricket advisory committee of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), nobody was more surprised when Dravid chose to devote his time to develop the future stars of India, took up the job of the coach of India A and India Under-19. “I am not trying to win the World Cup as a coach, but in developing these guys. Winning these Under-19 World Cups is not the be-all-and-end-all. I will be happier if some of these guys represent India. That should be their aim and real aspiration,” Dravid had said before flying to Bangladesh for the big event.

It is a satisfying feeling to know Indian cricket’s future is in safe hands, and why not? They have probably the best Indian coach to mentor them!

The Under-19 World Cup was never widely followed in India (outside newsrooms, that is), even when the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Shikhar Dhawan and Unmukt Chand were a part of it. The reason behind the 2016 edition of the big event becoming an exception in terms of number of viewers (we do check our site analytics, you see) was easily the coach — Dravid, one of the most admired Indian cricketers. Ahead of the final against West Indies, social media was filled with tweets from fans across the globe hoping to watch the man finally touch a World Cup trophy. But alas, destiny had different plans for him. After being undefeated in throughout the tournament, the only match India lost was the final.

It is a satisfying feeling to know Indian cricket’s future is in safe hands, especially after the performances from the likes of Sarfaraz Khan, Rishabh Pant, Mahipal Lomror, Arman Jaffer and others. And why not? They have probably the best Indian coach to mentor them! Barring the final, India displayed excellent cricket against Sri Lanka, Ireland, Nepal, New Zealand and Namibia.

Sarfaraz finished as the second-leading run-scorer of this World Cup with 355 runs from 6 innings with 5 fifties. The fifth of these came under immense pressure in the final, fighting all odds. His mature knock on Sunday has already given an impression that Sarfaraz surely deserves to be brought into the men’s game now.

Lomror, who filled the place of the all-rounder in this side perfectly, is one of the results of Dravid’s coaching. The choice of shots Lomror made after coming in during the middle overs, when India had lost a couple of wickets and they wanted a partnership to end well. Although Lomror did not stay the crease for long, he has often played those quick, crucial cameos, and followed with impressive shows with the ball. It was just in the final that Lomror failed to make any impact.

The other batsman who is coming up well under the tutelage of Dravid is wicketkeeper-batsman Pant. This is understandable, for Dravid was one himself for a chunk of his career. With his brutal strokeplay, Pant has often managed to send the opposition on the back-foot in the initial overs, but probably still needs some training behind the wickets. He made numerous blunders during the semi-final and final, dropping catches and missing easy stumpings. Had he performed better in the final behind the wickets, the result could have gone the other way.

Not to forget, the boys already knew what this World Cup meant to the Indian fans, they knew the crowd wanted them to win it for Dravid. One cannot imagine how these youngsters felt after losing the final. The tears in the eyes of Avesh Khan, Washington Sundar and others said it all. India was undefeated since Dravid had taken up charge until this final. Ishan Kishan and co. have made the country proud: a World Cup is a judge of characters and potential, but certainly not the ultimate judge. When these players continue under Dravid’s leadership, there is no doubt in assuming they will go on to put the spirit of the game first, rather than a win or a loss.

If that happens, the job is done for Dravid. All he wants from his coaching job is these boys not only go on to play for India but also play in the right spirit, like he always did.

This World Cup final defeat only brought back tough memories from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003’s final for their coach, when India were thrashed by Australia to lift the trophy. Not winning a World Cup probably is something Dravid has to live with forever and it would be the best when you take it this way, “Dear Rahul Dravid, you don’t need a World Cup to prove your worth!”

(Sakshi Gupta, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a sports fanatic whose mantra in life is “do only what you enjoy.” Her Twitter handle is @sakshi2929)