Pressure on India to win an ICC title after ten-year wait? Not at all, says Dravid

Rahul Dravid and Rohit Sharma have a chat
June 05, 2023

"The hype not being there might be a good thing."

With that, India head coach Rahul Dravid ended his media conference on Monday.

Rohit Sharma's India have been in England for close to a week. They slipped in quietly, in batches, to the train in the quieter, and picturesque, environs in Arundel. Both teams arrived in London over the weekend, but the buzz was mostly about the FA Cup final, the train strikes, and a bit about England Bazballing Ireland at Lord's.

The media interactions with the Australian contingent over the past few days have been dominated by Ashes talk, and you wouldn't be far off the mark if you felt the WTC final was more of a warm-up for the marquee series of the English summer.

The Ashes has been a storied cricketing rivalry and the excitement is palpable, and understandable.

But Australia vs India has grown into one of the best cricketing contests in the last two decades. Australia captain Pat Cummins acknowledged that at an ICC event on Sunday, saying the one team that had "really troubled" Australia were India, who have now won the Border-Gavaskar Trophy on successive away tours.

Still, with warm temperatures forecast for the match, the longer boundaries at The Oval, which also has true bounce, has made pundits like Ricky Ponting and Wasim Akram believe Cummins' team has a slight edge.

India, though, are not worried.

"Look, whatever will happen will happen in those five days," Dravid said. "Anything that happens before or after doesn't really make a difference. Who is the favourite, who isn't, when two good teams with good players play, whichever team performs well over the five days will win. I have full hope that if we play good cricket - and we have the ability - we have the players that we can pick 20 wickets, we can score runs, I have full hope that we can win this."

Dravid also said India were not going into the match with the baggage of having not won a world title since MS Dhoni's team lifted the 2013 Champions Trophy, which was also in England. Since Rohit and Dravid took charge, India have featured in just the one men's T20 World Cup, in the 2022 edition in Australia, where they reached the semi-final.

"No, not at all," Dravid said when asked if India were feeling the pressure. "I mean, we don't feel any pressure in terms of trying to win an ICC trophy. Of course, it would be nice to do it. It's certainly nice to be able to win an ICC tournament. But also in the context of things, you look at this and you see this is the culmination of two years of work, it's a culmination of a lot of success that gets you here. So there's a lot of positives to take from that to see where you stand on the table, winning series in Australia, drawing series here, being very competitive everywhere that this team has played in the world over the last five or six years.

"Those are things that will never change just because you have or you don't have an ICC trophy. That's really the bigger picture. But, of course, it's nice to be able to lift any game of cricket you want to win. This happens to be a World Test Championship final and it would be nice to get on the right side of the result."

Dravid felt it would be stretching the point by attaching the significance of an Indian win in the WTC final to the long-term health of Test cricket, just like India's ODI World Cup wins in 1983 and 2007 had done for the exponential growth of the white-ball game.

"I don't think you can compare the two. That was a long time ago and they [ODIs and T20Is] still are the new formats of the game. Test cricket has been around a really long time and I'm not sure one match is going to transform things or change things drastically, irrespective of whichever way it goes," Dravid said. "Test cricket faces unique challenges; it's a fantastic game which faces some challenges, which is not necessarily going to change [by] the result of one game."

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