Batting legend Dravid named India's new head coach

·3-min read
Indian batting legend Rahul Dravid has been named the new head coach of the national team succeeding the highly successful Ravi Shastri (AFP/PUNIT PARANJPE)

India's cricket board named batting legend and former captain Rahul Dravid as head coach on Wednesday, replacing Ravi Shastri who is stepping down at the end of a dire ongoing T20 World Cup for the Asian giants.

"Rahul has had an illustrious playing career and is one of the greats of the game... I am hopeful that his new stint will take Indian cricket to new heights," Sourav Ganguly, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, said in a statement announcing the appointment.

Dravid, 48, nicknamed "The Wall" or "Mr. Dependable" for his classical style and rock-solid defence, will take charge from the upcoming home series against New Zealand starting later this month.

Before retiring in 2012, Dravid scored 13,288 runs in 164 Tests, second only to the legendary Sachin Tendulkar for India and fourth overall in the world rankings.

Dravid, who in recent years had a successful run as head coach of India A and the under-19s nurturing several young players who are now stars, called his appointment "an absolute honour".

"Having worked closely with most of the boys either at NCA, U19 and India A setup, I know they have the passion and desire to improve every day," he said in the statement.

"With two World Cups scheduled to take place in the next two years, it is important to have a seamless transition, and the former India captain is the right man for the job," said Jay Shah, BCCI honorary secretary.

"I have no doubt that under him, the Indian team will dominate in all formats," Shah said.

Former Indian fast bowler Venkatesh Prasad tweeted that players "will be hugely benefitted with his vast experience. Wishing him the very best to take Indian cricket to greater heights."

Ex England captain Michael Vaughan said: "I think Rahul Dravid is going to make a fantastic head coach for India."

- Sour end -

Shastri's departure at the end of the ongoing T20 World Cup -- at which India's hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals are hanging by a thread -- had already been announced.

India's poor performance at the tournament -- thumped not just by New Zealand but also by arch rivals Pakistan -- marks a sour end to an otherwise successful four-year tenure, however.

Under Shastri, a decorated former India all-rounder who took charge in 2017, India had their longest reign at the top of ICC Test rankings at over 42 months -- and consistently performed well outside the subcontinent.

India became the first Asian team to win a Test series in Australia (2018-19) and followed it with another series win in 2020-21. This summer they were 2-1 up in England before the series was called off.

Before then India made it to the final of the inaugural World Test Championship in England, but lost to New Zealand who are now ranked number one in the long format.

Appearing to enjoy good relations with captain Virat Kohli, India also performed well in white-ball cricket bilateral series, defeating South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and England.

A new crop of fast bowlers also emerged under Shastri in recent years such as Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, reducing India's traditional heavy reliance on spin.

However, his tenure also stands out for India's inability to win any major ICC tournaments involving multiple nations, losing in the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup in England and Wales.

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