Rahul Dravid, the Gift that Keeps on Giving. The Man Behind IPL’s Young Guns Sanju Samson, Mayank Agarwal, Devdutt Padikkal

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Rahul Dravid, the Gift that Keeps on Giving. The Man Behind IPL’s Young Guns Sanju Samson, Mayank Agarwal, Devdutt Padikkal

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

The hallmark of IPL 2020 has been the rise of young Indian talent. Sanju Samson has shown the consistency we all crave from him. Mayank Agarwal is chasing the coveted Orange Cap. Navdeep Saini has been brilliant at the death. Ishan Kishan scored a blistering 99 in his first game of the season. Devdutt Padikkal is being called the “find of the IPL”. Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer continue to justify the faith put in them by experts and fans alike. All these players have one thing in common. At some point over the last few years, they trained under “The Wall” of Indian cricket, Rahul Dravid.

It’s the “most Rahul Dravid thing” in the world to not take credit for it. He would probably tell us that the players have talent, potential, and they’ve worked hard to make it. Of course, they have. But what must also not be forgotten is the impact Dravid has had on the cricketing setup in India, when he was heading the National Cricket Academy and also working with the India A and Under-19 team as their head coach.

Yes, these young guns are exceptionally talented, but what’s hard not to miss is the fact that they are all grounded.  There is no brashness or loud arrogance. There is a bit of Rahul Dravid each one of them – in how they conduct themselves on the field and the humility they showcase, both in good and bad times.

When Kamlesh Nagarkoti was down with an injury, it was Rahul Dravid who kept motivating him to comeback stronger. Nagarkoti has been impressive in IPL 2020 so far and his coach Surendra Rathod gives a lot of that credit to Dravid.

“Rahul sir has played a big role both in my cricketing life and life beyond the boundary rope. Being a disciplined sportsperson himself, Rahul sir talks about those things,” Prithvi Shaw had said.

In an interview to The Times of India a couple of months ago, Sanju Samon revealed that he calls up Dravid whenever he has any doubt. “I have learnt almost everything from Dravid sir from the age of 18 to 20 at the Rajasthan Royals and then during my India A stint. I would like to say that not only me, almost every youngster in the Indian team has (been) groomed under Dravid sir. He always says ‘my doors are always open’. We can call him or contact him and get his advice on any topic,” he said.

Former Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir recently stated that Dravid never got enough credit for his contribution to the game in India despite making an impact comparable to only Sachin Tendulkar.

Rahul Dravid quietly left his mark on Indian cricket, both on the pitch and off it, in the humble manner that only he can. And we cannot thank him enough for it.

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