Rahul Dravid, the head coach of India, was unambiguous in his judgment that the 469 runs they gave up after deciding to bowl on a “green wicket” placed them in trouble. It required catching up during the remainder of the WTC final at The Oval.
After Australia sealed a 209-run victory, Dravid told Star Sports, “It wasn’t a 469 wicket.” “It was disheartening to give up 157 [for no wicket] on the opening day, penultimate session. We were aware of the lines and lengths we needed to bowl, but we went wide with them, giving Travis Head a lot of room to capitalize, and we lost the match.
Nevertheless, Dravid bemoaned India’s late dismissals on the fourth day in a chase for 444 runs. Cheteshwar Pujara was dismissed for trying to ramp, Shubman Gill was caught in the gully for a contentious catch that sparked heated discussion, and Rohit Sharma was dismissed for sweeping Nathan Lyon.
“Yesterday I felt on this wicket, we played three-four shots, we could’ve been a little bit careful,” Dravid remarked. “Though it was difficult, there was hope. No matter how far behind you are, you keep fighting. We’ve faced instances where we were down but came back in the past two years.
“The wonderful thing about this Test was that we fell behind for two days, but we didn’t give up and fought hard. On the last day, we required an outstanding performance and a significant partnership. We had the talent, but Australia had the advantage. They bowled brilliantly and took a few wickets, showing that anything could happen.
Why did India decide to bowl in the WTC championship game?
When asked why India chose to bowl first, Dravid responded that the overhead circumstances were a major factor. As it turned out, the Test was played outside for the majority of the time, with temperatures reaching 30 degrees C on the fourth and fifth days, with the exception of the first hour.
“In the [first] morning, there was a lot of grass, the overhead conditions were cloudy, and in England, we felt batting gets easier – even on the fourth and fifth day, there wasn’t much happening,” remarked Dravid. The toss and field are won by many teams. We thought it was a wise choice at 70  for 3, but the game’s dynamics shifted in the two sessions that followed.
“The third and fourth innings would have been close if we had kept them under 300, which would have been a respectable score and kept us in the game. In England, it’s one of those things. At Edgbaston last year, the fourth innings got simpler, as England easily chased down 380 . We were aware that 444 runs is a lot, but if we had limited them to 320, we could have pursued it.
After that, a question on the top five’s performance was put to David. He acknowledged that the “legends” would be the first to be dissatisfied with their own performances, but he pointed out that the decline in averages over the previous two years was also a result of harder pitches.
The same boys have won Test matches in England and twice in Australia, according to Dravid. They’ll acknowledge that this didn’t meet their high expectations, but we’re striving to improve it. Some of the wickets have presented difficulties. This was a nice wicket, but other circumstances haven’t been straightforward.
“You are looking at qualification when you look at the WTC. It might be difficult when you’re under constant pressure to score in every game. We all occasionally have to take a risk.
Rahul Dravid, the head coach of India, on producing spin-friendly tracks at home
“In the WTC, every game is significant. You can’t play for draws; you need points. So the pitches have been difficult everywhere, including in India. When examining averages, this must be taken into account. Although it isn’t simply our problem, we do need to address it. Test victories are possible if runs are provided to the bowlers.
Does India need to abandon its home tracks that encourage spinning?
Regarding “tougher pitches,” Harbhajan Singh questioned Dravid on whether India needed to reconsider their strategy of modifying domestic pitches to suit their spinners, which came with the inherent risk of batsmen being unprepared for genuine pace abroad. Despite acknowledging that pitches that turned after the first ball were thrown weren’t ideal, Dravid said they had to take risks because of the WTC and the need to win.
“Nobody wants wickets to turn from the first ball and turn square, but when you’re playing the WTC and playing for points, everyone expects you to qualify, everyone wants you to quality, and everyone wants to come to games like this [final] as it gets closer to the end.” You occasionally have to take a few risks in circumstances like that.
“Our squad isn’t the only one taking chances. When South Africa visited Australia last year, the pitch in Brisbane lasted three to four days. Australia used to play on pitches that lasted five days as well, but these days they also do so in their own country.
“You are looking at qualification when you look at the WTC. It might be pretty difficult when you’re under pressure to score in each and every game. Sometimes, wickets take a result-focused approach. Even if I agree that some of the wickets in India have been challenging, we all occasionally have to take a chance.
Was there enough time between the WTC final and the IPL 2023 final?
India had a sporadic week of practice leading up to this Test. Since the IPL only ended on May 29, a number of first-choice players only joined the team a week before the Test. Following a brief camp in Arundel, India just started training in London on June 3. When asked if this was ideal, Dravid was unequivocal once more.
As a coach, I will never be satisfied with the preparation, but that is a fact that I and the team must deal with. The schedules are extremely congested. If you come here three weeks before the trip and play two side games, you’ll be better prepared if you’ve played international cricket.
We don’t have that; we must make the best effort possible while making no excuses or complaints. Australia deserves my congratulations. For five days, they performed better than we did. Making excuses is unnecessary; instead, we must examine our own actions to determine where we can improve. This requires ongoing effort.