Replacing Ravi Shastri was always going to be a challenging task for the next head coach of India. Indeed, over the course of his time in charge, Shastri had built a winning culture and turned India into the number one Test side in the world. Naturally, this always meant that when he eventually left his role, India would be in danger of losing the momentum that the 60-year-old had inspired.
All in all, India managed to win 121 games out of 184 under Shastri, giving him an impressive win percentage of 65.7. In particular, Shastri managed to win 25 out of 43 Tests, which gave him a success ratio of 58.1 in the longest format. Essentially, when assessing the impact that Shastri had on India, it’s important to keep his exploits in the Test arena at the forefront of your mind. This, after all, is the format where nations are judged the most in terms of success. You can see how difficult it was going to be for any incoming coach to keep those standards up.
Unsurprisingly, this has proved to be the case after Rahul Dravid was appointed as the man to lead India following Shastri’s departure. It should be said that the former Indian great haven’t had long in the job after taking over in November 2021 but, already, there is a trend developing with India unable to win a Test series away from home.
Storms in the Rainbow Nation
Dravid’s first opportunity came in South Africa at the beginning of the year and got off to a promising start after India crushed the Proteas during the first Test by a margin of 113 runs at SuperSport Park in Pretoria. Given that it was only a three-match Test encounter, Dravid had the opportunity to oversee a victory in the next game and by doing so, hand India their first-ever Test series win in the Rainbow Nation.
What followed was a South African revival that stopped India in their tracks as the Proteas won back-to-back Tests to claim the series and also deny Dravid a historical achievement.
"A VICTORY THAT IS MONUMENTAL!!" 👏— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) January 14, 2022
South Africa win the series! 🇿🇦 | #SAvInd pic.twitter.com/mCs8ArSmcC
Of course, many other Indian coaches have failed in South Africa ever since the game of cricket was created, which essentially meant that Dravid was spared any uncomfortable scrutiny. There was, however, just a suggestion that India had taken their foot off the throttle and become complacent when victory looked easier than losing.
Bombarded in Birmingham
That theory was given far more credibility when India arrived in England to play a one-off Test in order to finish off a series from 12 months prior that had been interrupted. When India jetted into Heathrow, they held a 2-1 lead and after setting the hosts a target of 378 in the fourth innings of the final Test, it seemed a certainty that India would win. Astonishingly, India wasn’t able to contain England who chased down the target and only lost three wickets in the process.
Again, when claiming victory seemed the only logical outcome, somehow India contrived to lose. In many ways, it’s hard to work out why this would happen given that India has a team full of match-winners that regularly produce extraordinary feats. You only need to look at how they dominate the Tata IPL to better understand how talented these players are. Needless to say, this developing trend in the national team will be of concern to India, especially as the T20 World Cup approaches. Granted, as of the 26th of August, the most up-to-date betting India Betway cricket odds price Dravid’s men as the joint favorites alongside Australia at +300, but this isn’t necessarily a surprise.
Indeed, India often goes into contests as the favorites but it is what they are beginning to do when presented with the chance to win that is becoming a concern. Yes, T20 may not be the full form of the game with India more susceptible to these collapses in the longer format, but the more scar tissue this team develops, the harder it will be in any version to win.
England win the Edgbaston Test by 7 wickets.— BCCI (@BCCI) July 5, 2022
A spirited performance by #TeamIndia as the series ends at 2-2. #ENGvIND pic.twitter.com/fNiAfZbSUN
Naturally, it is Dravid’s remit to ensure that India gets over the line but for now, the jury remains out on whether he can. Yes, Dravid may have been able to bat like Don Bradman but it is during his second act that he must now prove himself.
The eyes of the cricketing world will be on this Indian team as they try to shake off an early psychological impact that Dravid’s tenure has brought.