Team India head coach Rahul Dravid with the T20 World Cup trophy. Photo courtesy: X/@mufaddal_vohra

Rahul Dravid was not his usual restrained self after India’s T20 World Cup glory; he could not thank Team India enough for helping him have what he “wasn’t lucky as a player” to experience — the heady feeling of being a world champion.

However, Dravid also shrugged off the suggestion that this win symbolised some kind of redemption, and added that he was “not one of those guys who thinks about redemption”.

On Saturday, with head coach Dravid watching the action from the dugout, skipper Rohit Sharma marshalled his resources beautifully as India held their nerve to close a seven-run victory over South Africa. The thrilling finale of the T20 World Cup ended an 11-year ICC title drought for India.

“I really have felt short of words over the last few hours. I just could not be more proud of this team, the way we had to fight difficult situations,” said Dravid after the triumph. “Even today, I think it was a great testimony… for the team to lose three wickets in the first six overs, to be in the kind of position we were in, but the boys just kept fighting, they kept believing.”

Dravid, 51, is stepping down as Team India head coach on a high note, and will also be remembered as one of the great batsmen of the country.

He said, “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.”

The T20 triumph in the Caribbean is also seen as a sort of redemption for Dravid, under whose captaincy India endured a forgettable first-round exit in the 2007 ODI World Cup in this part of the world.

But Dravid said, “There is no redemption. I am not one of those guys who thinks about redemption and those kind of things. There are a lot of other players I know who have not been able to win a trophy.”

He continued, “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.”

Ever the professional, Dravid said, “[It’s a] nice feeling, but it’s not like I’m 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.”

Calling the title triumph the memory of a lifetime, Dravid said, “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’m thankful and grateful to the team and the support staff who have made this possible.”

Dravid, one of the finest batsmen and ambassadors in the game’s history, said that he was also not much into things like legacy. “I’m not a legacy person, I’m not looking for legacies. I just feel glad that we could give our best. I think I’ve 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,” he said.

“I just hope we will still be friends”: Dravid on Rohit

The fantastic equation that Dravid has with Rohit went a long way in building the kind of atmosphere needed for a team to succeed at the top level. Both have tremendous respect for each other and Rohit dedicated the victory to Dravid.

Dravid said that he would miss Rohit the person even more than Rohit the player. “I will miss him as a person; forget the cricket, forget the captain and everything. I just hope we will still be friends.”

He added, “I think what’s really impressed me in all of this is the kind of person that [Rohit] is, the kind of respect he has shown me, the kind of care and commitment he has had for the team, the kind of energy, and he has never backed down from it.

“So, for me, it’s the person that I will remember the most… he will be a great captain, he will be a great player, he will win trophies, but I think it’s the person that I am most fond of.”

2 years of hard work behind trophy

The T20 World Cup trophy was the culmination of two years of intense hard work and planning, said Dravid, refusing to restrict it to three weeks of playing excellent cricket.

“This is a journey of (over) two years, this is not a journey of this T20 World Cup, the construction of this team, the kind of skills we wanted, players we wanted, discussions started when I started in September 2021,” said the outgoing head coach.

“The balance that we wanted in the team [came from] two years of work — this is not just the work of this World Cup; I think it culminated in this World Cup. It has all come together here on a beautiful afternoon in Barbados,” said Dravid.

On a lighter note, he said, “I will be able to move on quickly from this win. Next week, I will be unemployed (laughs). I don’t want to think too far ahead, but yes, I hope, I will be able to move on. I think that’s what life is all about.”

Dravid expressed optimism about Indian cricket’s future and said that the team would achieve plenty of success in the coming years. He said, “Today’s players are fantastic talents in Indian cricket. Their confidence, their energy, they are on a different level at this point of time.

“We’ve been trying to win an ICC trophy for a long time, and I’m very hopeful that they will carry this confidence forward and help Indian cricket win many more trophies in the next five-six years.

“The ability and talent [that] this bunch of boys has [are] tremendous. There were moments when we felt that we were not able to win a big trophy despite giving our best. But today, I can say with confidence, that they will continue the good work and win more trophies going ahead.”