India have won the ICC Under-19 World Cup and more than the young guns of Indian team, the focus is more on Rahul Dravid who played a vital role in shaping up these young guns as champions. 

If you are an ardent Indian cricket follower, the 2003 Cricket World Cup final still hurts you. The 2007 final continues to anger you for more than one reason. The Indian team eventually did win the coveted World Cup trophy in 2011; while the team still had the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, the likes of Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, and Rahul Dravid were not a part of it anymore. These guys brought every possible laurel for their country but they were not the luckier ones to have their hands on the World Cup trophy: the dream with which every cricketer walks into the sport.

The scores were level. Harvik Desai was on strike. The Indian crowd in the stands of Mount Maunganui’s Bay Oval stadium were already on their feet. India were a run away from history. India were a run away from bringing the cup back home. India’s Under-19 Head Coach Rahul Dravid, like always, was sitting quietly in the dugout. I’m sure, his heart was pounding too. India were a run away from fulfilling Dravid’ dream of winning the World Cup in his cricketing career. Irrespective of the role, a World Cup win (as the head coach) was still a World Cup win.

Australia’s Sutherland bowled a fuller delivery outside off, Harvik sliced it over point for a FOUR and there broke magnificent scenes of merrymaking. The Indian captain Prithvi Shaw led the young bunch running into the field to pounce on the unbeaten centurion Manjot Kalra and Harvik who hit the winning runs.

Then the camera panned on the head coach, who walked into the field quietly and slowly but his eyes showed he was proud as punch. When he woke up today morning, he was a legendary Indian cricketer sans a World Cup win. When he went to bed, he was a World Cup winner. From now on, like Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli, even Dravid’s name would be associated with a World Cup triumph. His story was the living testimony to the fact that dreams come true in real life too and not just in fairy-tales; you just have to wait for the right time to arrive.

Shaw and Co won the Under-19 World Cup final by eight on Saturday and they defeated Greg Chapell-coached Australia to become the first team in the history to win the Under-19 World Cup four times. The victory was sweet, but since it came over Chappell’s team made it even sweeter. It took us back to the infamous phase of Indian cricket under the management of Gregg Chapell.

The 2007 senior World Cup would turn out to be Dravid’s final shot at the World Cup trophy and that’s when Team India were coached by infamous coach Chappell. Things got worse when India were knocked out in the group stage itself. Not much has been spoken openly about the Chappell-era, but whatever little bit was disclosed from the Indian dressing room, nothing was even close to being any positive. However, Dravid the kind of a person he is would not have even contemplated the final as an opportunity to settle old scores with Chappell.

Dravid’s values are being passed on

Dravid has been among those absolutely rare players who have given to the sport more than they have received anything in return. He was and still remained the best student of the game, as he has continued to do whatever he could to make the best bench for the Indian team for the future. Not many have agreed that Dravid had done anything great by opting to coach the Under-19 and ‘A’ team but one must take a second and think all over it. While the likes of Ganguly, Tendulkar and VVS Laxman chose to join the BCCI’s advisory committee, at the very same time Dravid had taken up the job of the younger players.

The three players of the once ‘Fab 4’ have continued to be associated with an IPL team, a state association or the glamorous world of cricket commentary, meanwhile, their fourth member, ignoring the financial aspect, has continued to work with the youth team. One might argue that Dravid did not make any sacrifices there but he must be given some credit to brush aside humongous money for the bright future of Indian cricket.

As the head coach, he has been successful so far in inculcating those same values in his team as well. The IPL auction took place three days prior to India’s semi-final clash against Pakistan. In order to keep these young guys away from any kind of distraction like phone calls and media coverage, Dravid had asked his boys to keep their phones switched off till the final. There were four Under-19 Indian players who became millionaires overnight – fast bowlers Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi, skipper Shaw and vice-captain Shubhman Gill – but were unaware of the massive news. It sure was a tough task for Dravid to keep these guys focused but it all worked for the best because all the four contributed well in the semi-final match.

The imprints of Dravid in the current Under-19 were clearly visible throughout the Under-19 World Cup 2018. During his playing days, he never misbehaved on the field and never threw away his wickets (exception instances were always there). That’s exactly what the game plan was for Shaw and Co, coming into the U-19 WC 2018. They were the most dominant side of the event and yet they had the aggression in control. There was no usage of foul language, there were no irresponsible shots played by carrying away with the momentum and the honesty shown the Indians only defined them as a bunch of good human beings and not just cricketers.

In the crucial semi-final against Pakistan, the Indian Captain Shaw took a brilliant catch at the slip. The batsman, other players and even the umpire was convinced that it was out. However, Shaw signaled the umpire to recheck it because he wasn’t sure if he had taken a clean catch. The replays showed that the ball had bounced first and the Pakistan batsman had survived. In the same match, Indian batsman Anukul Roy walked off, after knicking the ball to the wicketkeeper, even before the umpire had raised his finger.

Again, one might argue that the players these days were well aware of the fact that each and every ball was recorded and they cannot get away. However, umpires don’t always check and hence there can be several wrong decisions that go unnoticed.

Dravid’s skills too

There was another significant department where Dravid had excelled and so did his Under-19 pupils. The legendary player was involved in some of the biggest partnerships in cricket and most of those came with either Laxman, Tendulkar or Ganguly. Keep the importance of partnerships in mind, Shaw and his boys architect-ed their way in every innings they batted. Shaw and Manjot Kalra’s opening stand at the top took India off to a flyer in most of the games. Whereas, Shubman Gill’s carefully built partnerships with Harvik Desai, Riyan Parag, Abhishek Sharam and Anukul Roy were also instrumental in the team’s success.

In 2016, Dravid experienced the “so near yet so far,” phenomena when his Under-19 Indian team lost the World Cup final to West Indies. Under his coaching, India reached the final of the U-19 World Cup for the second consecutive time and this time, they brought home the cup. The BCCI’s decision to make Dravid the head coach of the India U-19 has already borne fruit and will continue to do so in the upcoming years as well when some of these talented youngsters go on to play for the senior team.

The moment when Dravid lifted the trophy high in the air, there was some sense of satisfaction in his eyes and the same was felt by the thousands of ‘Dravidians’ across the globe. Dravid’s retirement day was still fresh in their minds and the feeling of watching the great man big goodbye without achieving his ultimate goal was tough. However, the sight of Dravid, the World Cup winning coach, with the elite trophy suddenly brushed away all those bitter moments.


Whenever now Dravid would decide to call it quits from cricket once and for all, he will certainly have no regrets left behind him this time.

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