Following India’s loss to Australia in the 2023 World Cup title match in Ahmedabad, Rahul Dravid stated that his team was “30-40 runs short” of a respectable total in the end, but it wasn’t because of a fearful attitude in the middle overs.
“I refuse to concede that we exploited fear. With 10 overs, we scored 80 runs. We had lost wickets, and you have to alter your approach when you lose wickets, Dravid stated at the news conference following the game.
India reached 80 at the end of the powerplay after Rohit Sharma’s 31-ball 47 had set them on their way. However, over the remainder of the innings, they could only muster four boundaries, ultimately finishing at 240. Dravid said that the slowdown was not due to a lack of effort, but rather to the regular loss of wickets.
“In this final, we haven’t displayed any fearsome cricketing. They bowled quite well in the middle overs, and we had already lost three wickets. We thus required a period of consolidation, and each time we felt like we were about to attack, we would lose a wicket,” he stated. “You have to rebuild if you lose wickets. We weren’t planning on playing defense.”
Even though Australia eventually reached the target with seven overs remaining and six wickets in hand, Dravid felt that the outcome of the match may have been different if India had scored 30 to 40 more runs on what he thought to be a more difficult surface to bat on in the afternoon.
“It just seemed like the ball was halting a little bit more in the afternoon than it was in the evening. In the twilight, it seemed like the ball hit the bat much more nicely. There was a time when we couldn’t reach boundaries because the ball was halting. Although we could rotate the strike, we were unable to obtain those bounds.
“The game may have been extremely different if we had reached 280-290 and they were 60 for 3. However, I believe that 240 was always just one relationship away from success.”
The defeat on Sunday continued India’s string of near-misses at international tournaments; in the past 13 months alone, they have lost the World Test Championship final, the ODI World Cup final, and the T20 World Cup semifinal. Dravid said that in these games, India hasn’t been playing with the ball.
“I’ve been a part of three… and I believe that we didn’t play that well that day. I felt we were a little short against England in the T20 World Cup semi-final in Adelaide. In the World Test Championship [final], we were defeated on the opening day. After Australia was three down, we didn’t bowl very well. We didn’t bat well enough here, either.
You are unable to pinpoint a single cause for it. Before the game, I didn’t get the impression that the boys were nervous or afraid of the game. I felt the boys’ mental and physical preparation for this specific game was excellent.”
This month marks the end of Dravid’s two-year deal as head coach, but he steadfastly declined to discuss his future. He showered captain Rohit Sharma with compliments for both his batting and leadership throughout the World Cup.
“I always thought he did a wonderful job leading this squad, and I think he has been an amazing leader. He has devoted a great deal of his time and effort to the boys in the dressing room. He has consistently dedicated himself to planning and strategy, and there has been a great deal of both.
“I think his batting was excellent as well; he really set the tone for the team. He was really dedicated to helping us achieve our goals of playing a positive, attacking style of cricket, which we knew was what we wanted to accomplish. He aimed to set an exemplary example, and in my opinion, he performed admirably the entire tournament. I have nothing but praise for him as a leader and a person.”
It would not have been an easy one to face if this was to be Dravid’s final post-match press conference as coach; he had acknowledged that emotions were running high in the Indian dressing room as he walked towards the press conference room even as Australia was being handed their winners’ medals.
In that dressing room, a lot of emotions were present. As a coach, it was difficult to witness since I am aware of the amount of effort, sacrifice, and hard work these guys have done. That’s sport, though. That occurs. It is possible. And that day, the superior team prevailed. The sun will definitely rise tomorrow morning. We’ll think about it, take what we can from it, and move on. As athletes, that is what you do. You’ve experienced both incredible highs and lows in sports. And you continue onward. You never give up.”