A limited-overs squad, led by Shikhar Dhawan, is currently in Sri Lanka for a short series. The team, which will be coached by the legendary Rahul Dravid, will feature in three ODIs and as many T20Is in the island nation. While the main Team India squad is in England for a long and grueling tour, the series in Sri Lanka can be viewed as a smart experiment keeping the T20 World Cup in mind, which will be held in the UAE later in the year. A few young names can get an opportunity to put their names in contention for the mega T20 event.
Although the series in Sri Lanka will be a short one, a lot of eyes would be on Dravid, who is on his maiden trip as the national team coach. He had earlier successfully led India’s U-19 and India A squads. In fact, with him as the coach, India had won the U-19 World Cup in 2018, when Prithvi Shaw was the captain. Even though Dravid refused to take credit for India’s stupendous Test series win Down Under earlier this year, many including Aussie legend Greg Chappell hailed the former India captain for engineering a turnaround in the team’s fortunes. Almost all the youngsters who have played under his mentorship only have good words to say about Dravid.
Why Ravi Shastri should be a tad worried
Without a doubt, current Team India head coach Ravi Shastri has done a great job with the team. Along with captain Virat Kohli, he has inspired the side to many impressive triumphs. Under Kohli and Shastri, India created history in Australia in 2018-19. Earlier this year, Shastri combined with Ajinkya Rahane to help India deliver their second straight victory in a Test series Down Under. His dressing room speeches to the team were inspirational and, it wasn’t surprising that his pep talk went viral on social media in the wake of India’s famous Gabba triumph.
During his playing days, Shastri went out of the way to get the best of himself, even with his limited ability, which was evident to the naked eye. As team India coach as well, his aim is clear – to make India the best in his world. How far has be succeeded? To quite a significant extent. Team India have not lost a Test series at home under the Kohli-Shastri combine, thrashing opponents one after the other. However, there are certain major areas in which Shastri, Kohli, and Team India, as a combination, have faltered. The meltdown in the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand in Southampton was the latest instance of Team India failing to win an ICC event. Although they dominated the championship, India faltered at the final hurdle.
Under Shastri and Kohli, India have earlier been defeated in the World Cup semi-final, also by the Kiwis, in Manchester. Again, India were among the best sides in the tournament before succumbing on the big day. Although a coach’s role in a team’s success in cricket is limited, it is only fair that he takes a share of the blame for India’s underperformance, since he gets a lot of credit for the victories as well. The fact of the matter is big names including Kohli and Rohit Sharma have failed to perform on major occasions. The Indian think-tank also stuck with some out-of-form players, based on reputation. There were some clear miscalculations, and Shastri has been privy to the fiasco.
Should India look beyond Shastri as a coach?
As of now, India will, and should stick to Shastri’s services, with the T20 World Cup coming up. However, in the event of the team’s failure to lift another ICC crowd, serious questions should be asked of Kohli and Shastri. It would be a bit far-fetched to state that Dravid could be a possible replacement as a coach. The man himself is highly reluctant regarding the role. But, if India, indeed seek an alternate for Shastri in the near future, Dravid, if available, wouldn’t be a bad option at all.