The ongoing T20 World Cup is a big challenge for former captain Rahul Dravid to make a mark as the head coach of the Indian team. Dravid took over the charge from Ravi Shastri last year after T20 World Cup where India had a forgettable campaign. Under his guidance, India have started embracing a fearless batting approach which has worked quite well for them.
However, it is still not well tested on a big stage, Rohit Sharma and Co tried it in Asia Cup but failed to embrace the same on a couple of occasions. Many suggested that it will be interesting to see how the Indian team will cope in T20 WC if they lost early wickets against a top side.
During Shastri’s tenure, India became a fierce Test-playing nation as they won back-to-back Test series Down Under and also had an impressive show in England. The 60-year-old formed a solid partnership with former skipper Virat Kohli, the duo brought some fascinating changes in Indian cricket including a fitness revolution and an aggressive approach in Tests. However, they failed to guide India to win an ICC trophy.
Now the power paradigm has shifted to Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma and the stakes are high for them in the T20 World Cup. Dravid has tried several players before the tournament to give chances to many, however, frequent rests to many senior stars didn’t allow him to play his strongest side on many occasions.
In an exclusive conversation with News18 CricketNext, former Australia head coach John Buchanan talked about Dravid and said it’s too early to pass on any verdict on him as a coach. However, he claims that India will surely see the benefits of having Dravid as their head coach.
“Well, it’s only a very young career. It’s not even 12 months, is it? I don’t think. And like all coaches and all new regimes, it takes time for it to actually begin to unfold, but I think Dravid is a very intelligent person, a very good communicator. Huge amount of experience in international cricket works very well with everybody. So I just think over time, I think you will really see the benefits of Rahul Dravid as head coach of India," Buchanan told News18 CricketNext at the sidelines of Legends League Cricket.
The jam-packed schedule forced the Indian team to use several captains this year. The year started with Virat Kohli as Test captain on South Africa tour and then he relinquished his position which made Rohit the new all-format captain. To manage the swashbuckling opener’s workload, he was often rested for several series this year which made way for players like KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Shikhar Dhawan and Jasprit Bumrah to show their leadership ability.
With multiple captains in a single year, many feel it’s not good for a team as the coach has to deal with different personalities on new series which might pull him back to executing his plans.
Buchanan, who guided Australia to 2003 and 2007 ODI World Cup titles, has a different take on it as he feels having multiple leaders in the squad gave an advantage to the team to harness more knowledge.
“Not necessarily when I was coach, I really enjoyed that there were so many captains in the room or potential captains in the room. Because that meant that they had some very, very good ideas about how they wanted to game it would, whether you are a captain. So I think it can be a real advantage provided that you can harness that knowledge. And I think that’s what I was just saying about, I think he’s, Dravid’s that style coach. Be able to do that," he added.
Buchanan further heaped praises on the Indian batters when asked about choosing the X-factor in the side. He talked highly of Suryakumar Yadav and KL Rahul who have a wide variety of shots to take on the opposition.
“Probably in every side. There’s one, two, or three. The ones that you think, or the ones that, But again, just watching the India vs Australia T20I series, I was just amazed by the short making of Suryakumar Yadav and KL Rahul that that was pretty amazing. If those players and then you add in Rohit Sharma or Rishabh Pant or whoever else to that line-up and of-course Kohli it presents as a really exciting batting order," he added.
Talking about the Pakistan team, Buchanan suggested they have an imposing opening pair in Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan who can get the job done for their team.
“If we just looked at the most recent game, Pakistan vs England T20I series, Babar Azam and Rizwan is a pretty imposing open combination. If, if they’re allowed to, to gain, some momentum in the tournament, it really lights down," he said.
From England, Buchanan chose Liam Livingstone to shine in Australian conditions as he feels his experience of playing in BBL is going to help him for T20 WC.
“England, I think Livingstone is an interesting player given that he’s played in Australia and in the Big Bash League. He is ably familiar with the conditions and he again presents with bat and ball that’s pretty interesting," Buchanan concluded.