December 11, 2023

The star-studded Indian batting unit faltered on the biggest stage but head coach Rahul Dravid backed his players, saying they were not defensive and game circumstances dictated how the batters went about their job. India managed a below-par 240 against Australia in the World Cup final here on Sunday, and Pat Cummins‘ team gunned down the target in 43 overs to secure a record-extending sixth World Cup title.

After losing three wickets for 81 runs, Virat Kohli (54 off 63) and K L Rahul (66 off 107) went on consolidation mode in the middle overs where the hosts could only find the boundary twice.

Reporter: “Last year in the T20 World Cup, we made 170 runs in 20 overs, and England chased it easily. Today when we made 240 runs – Australia did not face any difficulties. Rohit comes on this wicket and scores 45-47 in 30 balls. But on the other hand, there are some batsmen who can score 60-65 runs on 110 balls. And the strike rate is very low. So, what happens is that in big matches, we play a little scared. You feel that our approach is not right? What are the issues? These issues have been visible since the last three or four World Cups, Asia Cups.”

Rahul Dravid: “I won’t believe that we played with fear in this tournament. In this final match, we were on 80 runs in 10 overs. We were losing wickets. When you lose wickets, you have to change your strategy and tactics. We showed that in this tournament. When we lost against England, we played differently. You have to play. You start with front foot cricket. And in this match, in the final, we didn’t play anything out of fear. They did a lot of good bowling in the middle overs.

“We lost three wickets. So, we needed a period of consolidation. But whenever we thought we’d play attacking or positive and go forward and hit, we lost wickets. So, you have to build again. Whenever you have a partnership, you have to build it. You saw the batting of the team. There was a time when Marnus and Head were playing. They established it. But they didn’t get out, so they kept playing. If you keep losing wickets in the middle, then you have to rebuild. But it’s not like we started playing defensively.”

India, who last won an ICC trophy in 2013, have not been able to win a title in the Rohit Sharma-Rahul Dravid era that had begun after the 2021 T20 World Cup debacle in November.

Dravid’s tenure was till the ODI World Cup and when asked about his future, he was non-committal.

“I have not given any thought to next year’s T20 World Cup, I don’t know what’s there in future,” said Dravid referring to the T20 World Cup in USA and Caribbean in six months’ time.

India were on a roll in this tournament until their juggernaut was ended by an all-round Australia, who know how to excel on the biggest stage.

Skipper Rohit Sharma led from the front with his bold stroke-play throughout the competition and Dravid was all praise for him and the team.

“Rohit has been an exceptional leader, always committed to planning and gave personal time and energy to this campaign. Obviously, there is disappointment, but this team has given a lot of joy in the past couple of months “Of course, Rohit and team is disappointed, and it is tough to see the emotion as coach in that dressing room. But the sun will come up tomorrow, and as sportsmen, we move on,” he added.

With PTI inputs

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