How Rahul Dravid enriched Indian cricket?

The eleventh season of the Indian Premiere League (IPL) has seen some really impressive performances from Indian youngsters. While the IPL has always provided a platform for talented Indian youngsters to excel, over the last couple of seasons, a host of names have come to the fore in the tournament and made a name for themselves.

In IPL 2018, the likes of Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer, Shivam Mavi and Shubman Gill have performed exceedingly well and have come in for plenty of accolades. While these talented youngsters deserve every bit of the praise, one must not forget that the real credit goes to the one who has honed them over the years. Ex-Indian batting great Rahul Dravid has been responsible for molding several young Indian colts over the past few years and his efforts are bearing fruit now.

Dravid, who recently coached the victorious U-19 Indian team for the ICC U-19 World Cup in New Zealand, always tends to stay away from the spotlight. But ever since he has been given the responsibility of coaching the Indian colts in 2015, a lot of promising new talent has emerged.

Prithvi Shaw, the captain of the Indian U-19 team and currently opening the batting for Delhi Daredevils, has been one of the big beneficiaries of Dravid’s mentorship. During the 2016/17 Ranji Trophy, Mumbai were struggling to find an opener ahead of their semi-final clash. It was Dravid who insisted selector Milind Rege to include Shaw as the opener. Shaw was thus given a Ranji debut and he went on to slam a sparkling 120 to guide Mumbai to the finals. Ever since he has not looked back.

And Shaw’s association with Dravid as a captain in recent ICC U-19 World Cup proved to be even more fruitful. “He is legend but he created such an environment that we could talk to him like a friend. He is such a simple man. The way he carries himself is remarkable. After the win he told us to remain grounded.” Shaw was quoted as saying about Dravid after winning the title.

In fact, all the players from the U-19 World Cup, who are featuring in this IPL, have a lot to owe to Dravid. Shubman Gill, who is doing excellent work for Kolkata Knight Riders, was the second highest run-getter of the ICC U-19 World Cup. Gill has stressed how Dravid has honed his mental game and has helped him prepare for the bigger stage ahead in his career.

The same also holds true for fast bowler Shivam Mavi. While Dravid may not have intricate knowledge of fast bowling, he has had several sessions with the young bowler on how to control his temperament when he is being hit around and to be focused.

Another impressive youngster in the IPL this year has been Rishabh Pant who is in the top of the batting charts with close to 400 runs. Pant was under Rahul Dravid’s guidance during his U-19 days and in the 2017 season for the Delhi Daredevils. Much of his talent was sharpened by the legendary Indian batsman. It is Dravid who has pushed him to play his natural game, back his strengths and not complicate things too much. This advice is becoming fruitful to the talented young batsman and Dravid has insisted repeatedly on several platforms that Pant will be the future star for India.

This must be a massive boost for the 20-year-old Delhi batsman. The likes of Sanju Samson and Shreyas Iyer have also had the fortune of being coached by Dravid in the IPL and in U-19 cricket. Both of these talented batsmen have sung praises of how influential Dravid has been assisted them with their technique and the art of being composed. Samson and Iyer both have clearly taken Dravid’s guidance pretty well as is evident from their regular performances.

It is thus well established now that the prospective stars of Indian cricket today owe a lot to Rahul Dravid. Under his tutelage, they have learned to be better versions of themselves. He has made them understand that obsession over results at a junior level isn’t as vital as learning the different facets of the game and correcting it regularly. Following these tips of the great man has helped these cricketers reach this level today and if they continue to do so, they can only get better.

As a cricketer, Dravid served Indian cricket for more than 15 years with humility and grace. His unflinching devotion to the team and discipline towards his game is the stuff of legends. It is heartening to see that today he is passing on his valuable traits to Indian youngsters. He could have easily taken a comfortable job to be in the limelight. But he has chosen to be behind the scenes, trying to help out Indian cricket’s youngsters for the better prospects of the sport in the country.

Today it is the likes of Pant, Gill, Shaw, Iyer and Mavi who are shining in the IPL and will probably do so for the national team as well. Tomorrow, there will be plenty of others like them too. Because a certain Rahul Dravid will be ensuring that he is holding the hands of Indian cricket’s future and pushing them on the road to success, come what may.