Team India faced a crushing 6-wicket defeat at the hands of Australia in the final of the 2023 World Cup on Sunday. In a rather one-sided title clash at the iconic Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Australia exploited the dry surface conditions as they invited India to bat and produced a strong bowling performance, wrapping the innings on 240. With batting conditions improving under the lights, Travis Head produced a match-winning knock, smashing 137 off 120 deliveries as Australia chased down the target with 7 overs to spare.
India, who were touted as favourites to lift the title – thanks to their magnificent performance in the World Cup where they remained unbeaten till the final – endured their second final defeat in an ICC tournament this year. In July, the side faced another loss to Australia in the final of the World Test Championship. India’s wait for an ICC trophy, thus, continues; the side had last lifted a title in 2013 when it defeated England to win the Champions Trophy under MS Dhoni’s captaincy.
Will Rahul Dravid remain India’s head coach?
When the dust settles down, it will be time to reflect and maybe a few changes, some forced, some tactical. The immediate and biggest discussion would be about the team’s head coach, Rahul Dravid.
Dravid’s contract as the head coach of the Indian team officially ended on Sunday, November 19. There has been no discussion in the BCCI about the future course of action, yet.
Asked how he looks at his future and if he is game coaching in a single format, Dravid remained non-committal.
“I haven’t thought about it. I’ve just come off a game. I had no time to think about this and no time to reflect on this. Yeah, I will when I get the time to do that,” he said at the post-match media conference.
“At this point of time, I was completely focused on this campaign and there was nothing else on my mind. And I haven’t given any other thought to what happens in the future.”
Dravid’s former teammate and the current head of the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, VVS Laxman will be the interim head coach of the second-string Indian side that will take on Australia in a five-match T20I series starting Thursday. BCCI is likely to officially invite applicants for the position of head coach soon. Laxman is reportedly set to apply for the job.
‘Haven’t thought about T20 World Cup’: Dravid
The 50-year-old also said he isn’t someone who believes in analysing his own two-year tenure.
“To be honest, I am not really someone who’s going to judge and analyse myself. I was really proud to work with. I think the players that I worked with over the last two years in all the formats, it’s been a privilege.”
He also didn’t want to comment on whether he would be interested in guiding the team during the next year’s T20 World Cup in USA and the West Indies.
“Honestly, I haven’t thought about it. I think all our campaign, all our energies were focused on this match, focused on this tournament, and focused till here. And I haven’t actually given it any thought or I have no plans, I have had no plans of what’s going to happen in the future,” said the former India captain.
Asked whether some of the golden generation of Indian cricketers lost out on an opportunity to win a World Cup as the next edition in South Africa in four years might be too late, the coach laughed.
“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,” Dravid said.
What happens to India in knockout games?
This was also India’s third knock-out loss under the duo of captain Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid. During the post-match press conference, Dravid was asked about India’s failure to clear the final hurdles in the ICC tournaments, and Dravid stated that while mindset isn’t an issue, India did play poor cricket in all of the losses.
“I have been involved in three (losses) now, the one semi-final (T20 World Cup 2022), then World Test Championship final and now this final. I think we haven’t played really well on the day. I thought we were a bit short in Adelaide in the semi-final. We lost the first day in the World Test Championship, unfortunately, we didn’t bowl particularly well after Australia was down and here we didn’t bat well enough in the first innings. So yeah, there’s not one particular reason you can pin it down to,” Dravid said.
“I didn’t feel at any stage going into this game that there were any nerves or the guys were intimidated by the game or they were concerned about the game. I think they were looking forward to it. We were excited about the game. I thought there was energy, and the mental space the boys were in leading into this particular game was spot-on and terrific. Just on the day we probably didn’t execute and Australia played better than us,” the head coach further stated.
India failed to stitch long partnerships throughout their batting innings and tight bowling from the Aussies, coupled with brilliant fielding efforts from the players meant the hosts were left frustrated with the bat. KL Rahul – the highest scorer in the innings – smashed 66 off 102 balls during which he scored only one four. With the ball, India did make a strong start and picked three Australian wickets for just 47 runs; however, Head, alongside Marnus Labuschagne (58*) rebuilt the Aussie innings and eventually took the side home.