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10/07/24 | 12:49 pm

Charting Team India’s future post-Dravid era

By: Aditya Ahuja

As the euphoria of the T20 World Cup win begins to settle down, Indian cricket is gearing up for a new chapter with the appointment of Gautam Gambhir as the head coach of Team India.

Rahul Dravid, who successfully steered India through four ICC tournaments, concluded his tenure as coach following the T20 World Cup triumph last month.

During his three-year term as head coach, the Indian legend tok the team to unprecedented heights, guiding them to the finals of ICC events in all three formats: the ICC World Test Championship, the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, and the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.

Only one of those journeys brought home a trophy, but it was no easy feat to reach the decisive clash each time.

India’s new head coach, Gautam Gambhir, brings with him a wealth of experience and a strong connection to major titles. He played a pivotal role in India’s victories at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in 2007 and the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in 2011. As captain, he led the Kolkata Knight Riders to IPL titles in 2012 and 2014, and most recently guided them to another victory as coach earlier this year.

At 42 years old, Gambhir faces the daunting task of meeting the expectations of 140 crore people and replicating his playing success at the highest level as coach.

Despite inheriting a team already near the pinnacle of world cricket, Gambhir and the Indian team face a demanding schedule across formats.

We take a look at what Gambhir will have on his agenda in the three formats:

Tests:
Unlike in ODIs and T20Is, India isn’t at the top of the ICC Men’s Test Team Rankings. They have reached the final of the last two ICC World Test Championships but couldn’t place their hands on the mace.

India comes off a brilliant Test series win against England at home, the 4-1 scoreline placing them at the top of the ICC World Test Championship standings. Currently, the team has six wins in nine Tests this cycle and is primed to reach a third successive final.

But the road ahead isn’t straightforward. After two home series against Bangladesh and New Zealand, India will embark on a tough tour Down Under, where they’ll play five Tests, and the series could be pivotal in deciding their fortunes this cycle.

After two successful Australia tours since 2018, the team will be eyeing another series victory, but Pat Cummins’ side has proved to be a thorn in their side in recent times. This series will likely present Gambhir’s sternest test in this WTC cycle.

ODIs:
The wounds from a heartbreaking loss in the final of the home Cricket World Cup might have healed a bit with the T20 World Cup trophy, but India has two big ICC events awaiting in this format in the next four years – the Champions Trophy next year and the Cricket World Cup in three years.

The team is also very likely to undergo a transition during this period. Rohit Sharma will lead the side at the Champions Trophy, but Gambhir knows that the process of grooming the next captain and the next set of players must begin soon.

India hasn’t tasted a title win in this format since 2013, when they won the Champions Trophy, and Gambhir will hope to turn those fortunes around next year.

T20Is:
The team is basking in glory after the T20 World Cup win in the Caribbean and the USA, but this success was shortly followed by the retirements of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Ravindra Jadeja from T20Is.

While the next event is two years away, this is a crucial transition period for the side that Gambhir will have to oversee. Aside from picking the new captain, the former India opener will also have the task of filling in three key positions in the starting XI. With the number of players the IPL is churning out, Gambhir faces a problem of plenty. Making optimal use of the resources available to him could be the difference between disappointment and defending the title in 2027 at home.

Gautam Gambhir’s first assignment as India’s head coach will be the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka, where several senior players are expected to be rested again. The tour is set to begin on July 27 and will feature three T20s and three ODIs.

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