What a story it has been for India coach Rahul Dravid in the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand. As India beat Australia at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui by eight wickets on Saturday, his long desire of winning a World Cup trophy at last got fulfilled.
As a player, he played three World Cups in 1999, 2003 and 2007 and the closest he got to lifting the trophy was in 2003 as Aussie Ricky Ponting played a blinder of an innings to demolish India in the final in South Africa.
The 2007 World Cup in the West Indies was rather a forgettable experience as India crashed out of the first stage of the tournament with him at the helm.
That’s why India Under-19s’ win on Saturday matters a lot to the former India captain, even though he modestly – as is his wont – chose not to mention his personal achievement in a brief chat after the match.
“Really proud of the boys and the effort they put in,” Dravid, who played his last international game in 2012, said.
“Hopefully it’s a memory they cherish for a long, long time, but hopefully not the lasting memory and they have many more great moments and bigger things in future. I don’t want to mention names but everyone in the support staff has put in a great effort. We do the best for the kids,” the 45-year-old added.
The biggest contribution from Dravid has been his inculcating calmness in the young Indian boys, and that brought out the best in them all through the tournament.
They convincingly beat Australia, Papua New Guinea, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and arch-rivals Pakistan on their way to the final and the story remained the same on Saturday as his charges galloped over the line in 38.5 overs with eight wickets in hand.
Certainly, these boys couldn’t have had a better coach than Dravid.
There is no doubt players like Prithvi Shaw, Manjot Kalra, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shubman Gill and many others have a great future and when they reach that ultimate level of success, let’s try not to forget who made it possible for them.