Rahul has scored only 22 runs in three matches but the coach said there is no chance of replacing him at the top of the order. India play Bangladesh on Wednesday.
“In words and in action over the last year, Rohit and I have shown that we fully support KL,” head coach Dravid told media persons on a day when most questions were reserved on Rahul’s form.
The head coach has done all the firefighting for one of his favorite players and someone he sees as a future India captain.
“Not at all,” Dravid said when asked if there were any concerns about Rahul’s form.
“I think he is a fantastic player. He has a proven track record. He has done very well. He has batted superbly and sometimes these things can happen in a T20 game,” the coach effusively praised the Indian all-rounder . -captain.
“It was not that easy for top-order batsmen (in this tournament). He was great in the practice match against Australia. With Mitchell Starc and Pat Cumminsit was a pretty good innings and I thought he batted superbly on the day…”
Dravid then made it clear that there is no chance of the man from Bangalore dropping at least in this tournament and hopes that he will come good in the next four matches. If India play four matches, they will effectively play the final.
“I hope it will come together in the next three or four games. We know his quality, we know his ability, he is suited to these conditions, these pitches.”
The head coach did not forget to mention the qualities that make Rahul a tailor-made player for Australian conditions.
“He has a good all-round game, he has a strong back-foot game which is very much required in these conditions,” he said.
So when someone is under such a scanner, it becomes difficult to support such a player? ‘The Wall”s reply was an emphatic one and laced with sarcasm.
“It’s not difficult at all (to back Rahul). Because we don’t pay attention to what people are talking outside. We have certain ideas in mind, certain faith in players.
“We have played the game enough to know that people go through ups and downs. We also understand the nature of Indian cricket,” Dravid said.
He gave the example of how the media was after Virat Kohli until he found form and now it is Rahul, whose form is under scrutiny.
“Once you’ve gone past Kohli and Kohli has runs, who’s the next guy? Then if Rahul scores runs, look around, who’s the next guy. That’s part of the job, I don’t mean that in a derogatory way but that’s the nature of professional sport.”
For Dravid, the team is not “swayed” by public perception.
“Especially in this T20 format, which is such a high-risk format, you’re asking people to play a high-risk brand of cricket and you’re asking them to play a positive brand of cricket. We’ve always had that belief that we must give them that confidence and support.”
But Dravid countered that if he was talking about high-risk approach, the shots played by Rahul en route to his respective dismissals against Pakistan and South Africawas anything but high risk.
As of 2021, Rahul’s strike rate against top teams was less than 120 and an average of less than 20 does paint a sorry picture.
But Dravid feels that his senior opener needs to be cut some slack in these challenging conditions.
“In these conditions, maybe we can afford him (Rahul) that time. We (he and Rohit) fully support him. We have no worries about him. We know when he gets going, I know the impact this guy can make .And I saw it against a top class attack (Australia) just a few weeks ago.
“In Rohit and my mind there is absolutely no doubt that who is going to open for us,” Dravid literally ended the ‘Rahul debate’ with a parting shot.