Team India's newly appointed head coach Rahul Dravid has pointed out his strategy in managing the squad, saying that training an Under-19 team and a result-oriented international one is different; there has to be a balance in making a team for the future and winning games.
The batting legend claimed that his vision was to “keep getting better as players and individuals". Dravid was “just getting a sense [of the environment]" and his “role initially is to sit back and observe".
Dravid has been coaching various Indian teams, including the U-19 squad which won the world cup title in 2018. He has also led various successful tours with the ‘A’ teams throughout his stint. In 2021, he coached a senior squad during the limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka.
U-19 Vs. international team
"Certain coaching principles remain the same but [certain things] definitely need to change for different teams," Dravid answered when asked about the difference in coaching for teams on various levels. "[It] will take time for me to understand and mould myself to get the best out of players. That's my philosophy."
Dravid insisted that he would not repeat what he had done to the U-19 for his time with team India as he believed it was not the right way.
Dravid's stint as the head coach of the senior Indian men's team started with a T20I series triumph over New Zealand. However, a possibly bumpy road awaits as his squad is set to face South Africa in a three-Test series beginning December 26.
It is understood that India has never won a single Test series against the RSA. The last time they visited them, they were beaten by a 2-1 margin. In their current campaign, the coach will have to address possible conflicts between Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
Sharma recently stole the mantle of ODI captaincy from Kohli. Rumours spread that a rift has formed between the two superstars. Despite Kohli recently asserting that there were no differences between him and the new captain, people were unsure if that was what he really felt.
"He has a bigger challenge because of the recent controversies that have happened, to uplift the team after that," said former cricketer Reetinder Singh Sodhi. "It is an acid test for Rahul Dravid. If we talk about Rohit and Virat, to make them stand together and get the partnership back, if there is a difference of opinion between them, so Rahul will be addressing that first."
Sodhi believed that it would be hard for Dravid to reinforce the unity in the squad while they are overseas "and this tour which will be in different conditions, how our batters excel in South Africa. South Africa have a good bowling lineup and Rahul Dravid will have to work a lot there".
During team India's latest warm-up session on Saturday, players could be seen doing a bit of jogging and stretching before hitting the nets while Kohli received batting tips from Dravid in a video shared by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
"We have done well in the home series but now is the acid test," Sodhi continued. "If Rahul can get his team to do well here, the great respect he has in the entire world as a player, it will grow a lot as a coach also. So yes, a big test for Team India and a very big Test for Rahul Dravid."