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T20 World Cup: In His Last Act, Rahul Dravid Exorcises the Ghosts of West Indies

With the 2024 win, the ghosts of 2007 West Indies are exorcised, completing a poetic redemption act for Rahul Dravid

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Seventeen years ago, at Port-of-Spain's Queens Park Oval, a crestfallen captain Rahul Dravid and a woebegone Indian team faced the crushing disappointment of being ousted early from the ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2007.

Fast forward to 2024, the scene couldn't be more different. Seated in the dugout at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, this time as the coach, the 'Wall' of Indian cricket watched his team lift an ICC trophy after an 11-year drought, conquering South Africa in the ICC Men’s  T20 World Cup 2024 final.

This transformation from a dejected captain in 2007 to a victorious coach in 2024 paints the picture of a perfect redemption story, filled with poetic justice. Yet, true to his nature, Dravid, ever modest and quick to deflect the spotlight, downplayed the notion of redemption, attributing his achievement to sheer "luck" in delivering for the nation as a coach.

With the 2024 win, the ghosts of 2007 West Indies are exorcised, completing a poetic redemption act for Rahul Dravid
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Firstly, there is no redemption. I am not one of those guys who thinks about redemption and those kinds of things. There are a lot of other players I know who have not been able to win a trophy. I was lucky to be given the opportunity to coach, and I was lucky that this bunch of boys made it possible for me to be able to win a trophy and celebrate. It's not like I am aiming for some redemption, it's just a job that I was doing. I loved doing the job, I loved working with Rohit and this team. It's been a great journey and I have really enjoyed it.
Rahul Dravid

Euphoric Celebration

But when the silverware was handed to the 51-year-old, the glee of a 5-year-old lit up his face and the jubilant celebration that followed spoke volumes about what this victory meant to the outgoing coach. “You know, as a player, I was not lucky enough to win a trophy, but I tried my best whenever I played and it happens, it's part of sports,” he would recall at the post-match presentation.

That being said, it is not just World Cup campaigns and his leadership win that defines Dravid. It’s his composed demeanour and perennial humility that truly showcase his character.

Ahead of the final, when a social media campaign "Do it for Dravid," gained momentum, he made it a point to divert the attention away from himself. In doing so, offering words of wisdom that one could live by.

It's totally against who I am as a person and it's totally against my values. You know, I don't really believe in this 'Do it for somebody'. I love that quote about somebody asking somebody else, 'Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?' and he says 'I want to climb Mount Everest because it's there. Why do we want to win this World Cup? because it's there.. .It's not for anyone, it's not for anybody, it's just there to win. I just want to play good cricket and yeah, doing it for someone is totally against who I am as a person and what I believe in so I don't want to talk about it and discuss it. If you can get that campaign removed, I will appreciate it.
Rahul Dravid
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A Tenure of Courage & Tough Calls

When Rahul Dravid took over reins of the Indian side in November of 2021, following the departure of Ravi Shastri, he had his task cut out. His initial term was for two years and it was under him that the Men in Blue marched into two ICC finals in 2023 — the World Test Championship, followed by the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023. The side ended up being second best on both occasions.

His tenure was originally set to conclude after the 50-over World Cup last year, but an extension was granted until Saturday — an extension that has proven immensely rewarding.

The triumph on Saturday wasn't just the result of recent months; it was a culmination of the coach's steadfast efforts and the team's collective resilience over the last few years that ascended team India to glory in a World Cup. Throughout his tenure, Dravid made tough decisions and weathered criticism, consistently supporting players during their lows.

When Shubman Gill faced scrutiny for his form earlier this year, Dravid stood by him, emphasising his belief in nurturing young talent. Gill responded with a half-century and a century shortly thereafter. Similarly, Dravid played a crucial role in KL Rahul's comeback during the 2023 Asia Cup following injury, where Rahul marked his return with a century against Pakistan.
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Truly, The End of an Era

These pivotal decisions by the coach have been the cornerstone of India's strong and victorious ICC campaigns across formats — be it in white-ball or red-ball cricket, both at home and abroad — over the past few years.

Just phenomenal, just lovely to be a part of a dressing room like this. It's a memory of a lifetime for me, so I am thankful and grateful to the team and the support staff who have made this possible. I am not a legacy person, I am not looking for legacies, I just feel glad that we could give our best. I think I have been lucky to have been working with an exceptionally professional bunch, intelligent bunch of coaches and other support staff who have made it possible to create a fantastic environment. I am glad that a bit of luck has resulted in this trophy. I couldn't be happier for this team, and I couldn't be happier for so many of the Indian fans who are coming out to these games.
Rahul Dravid

With the 2024 victory, the ghosts of 2007 have been exorcised, completing a poetic circle of redemption for the Wall.

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