No one wants to win big tournaments more than the players, can’t fault their efforts: Dravid



After India crashed to a 209-run loss in the WTC final against Australia, the Asian nation’s think-tank came in for some severe criticism from the fans and experts alike. One of the criticisms levelled at the Indian team management was about not picking the right combination, with Ravi Ashwin being left out. The other was India could have batted first after winning the toss.

However, it has to be noted that there was 4-6 mm grass, and the ball did move off the seam consistently for the first few hours. There was also swing in the air. Dravid, the India coach, observed that the conditions were ideal for pace bowling.

“There was a lot of grass on the wicket, and conditions were cloudy. We’ve seen in England batting gets easier. There wasn’t much help on Day 4 or 5 if you saw. We got them on 76/3, but then let it slip away. Even the last time we played at Edgbaston, pitch got easier to bat. 300-plus was chased,” he told the host broadcasters following the conclusion of the match.

Dravid also rued the fact that they didn’t exactly get their lines and lengths right on day 1. There was a stat that showed only nine per cent of all the deliveries bowled on day 1 was going to hit the stumps. “It wasn’t a 469 pitch. Gave away too many in the last session (on Day 1). We knew what lines and lengths to bowl. Our lengths weren’t bad but we probably bowled too wide. Gave room to Head. Some of the shots we played, maybe we could’ve been more careful,” Dravid

“It was obviously difficult (the target). There’s always a hope no matter how far we’re behind. Many Tests over the last 2 years where we’ve fought hard from difficult situations. Needed a big partnership, we had the big players for it, but they had the upper hand. This can happen.” 

Since 2020, the Indian top-order has failed to perform consistently in the longest format of the game. While skipper Rohit Sharma has an average of 43.20, Cheteshwar Pujara averages 30.11. Virat Kohli has an average of 31.76, with comeback man Ajinkya Rahane having a shoddy average of 26.96. Although Rahane was perhaps the best batter for India in the WTC Final.

When asked about the poor averages of Indian batters, Dravid said: “Our top five are all very experienced. These same players have won in Australia, in England. Some of the wickets have been quite challenging. This was a good pitch I’ll admit. But some of the other places it’s been tough. Even in India pitches have been tough.

“Taking this into account, averages have dropped across the board, not just for us. Nobody wants wickets to turn from the first ball. But when you are playing for points, in situations like that, you have to take risks. And we aren’t the only ones taking risks. Look at Australia, the pitches there. Sometimes the pressure is on you to get those points in every game. It is a risk we have to take. We are getting close. We’re getting to semis, to final. Just that we haven’t played the best cricket on the day. No one wants it more than the players, can’t fault their efforts. Just haven’t played our best cricket on occasions.”

Another question mark before the WTC Final was regarding the preparations of the team, given the IPL 2023 had concluded just days before the summit clash. On his part, Dravid said that it is not the time to make excuses. “Never going to be happy with the prep as a coach. But that’s the reality we are faced with. We have to make do with what we can. Don’t think we should make excuses.”

With ODI World Cup 2023 just months away, India would look to fine-tune their squad combinations and start their journey to the showpiece event, with the next series scheduled against the West Indies from July 12.

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