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Rahul Dravid's appointment and the shift of roles between Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli

Rahul Dravid's appointment as India head coach was long expected, but it has somehow coincided with a seamless transition on the field as well, as seen in India's T20 World Cup match against Afghanistan and the press conference that followed.

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Rahul Dravid was appointed as India head coach on Wednesday, as India were playing Afghanistan in a T20 World Cup match. (BCCI)

By

Dipankar Lahiri

Updated: 2021-11-04T17:19:01+05:30

On Wednesday evening, around the time Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul were getting India off to a blistering start in a must-win match against Afghanistan at the T20 World Cup in UAE, the most anticipated news in Indian cricket circles broke – Rahul Dravid would be taking over from Ravi Shastri as the head coach of Team India later this month.

However, this was not the only change of guard in Indian cricket on Wednesday. On the field, Rohit Sharma seemed to have taken on a bigger leadership role.
When the bowlers looked around for ideas, it was he who went up to them to have a word. When substitute fielder Ishan Kishan ran in from long off to put in a brave diving effort, it was he who came up with a boisterous applause.
On the other hand, skipper Virat Kohli, who is set to lose the India captaincy in shorter formats, made his presence felt by being absent. He did not come out to bat, sending Rishabh Pant at 3 and Hardik Pandya at 4, as India finished at 210/2. He was not always the first to rush to his bowlers or fielders to celebrate a wicket either.
Even in the post-match interviews, the shift in roles was palpable. When asked about the difference in approach by the top order from the first two matches, when India's batting looked much more tentative, Rohit and Kohli had different answers.
Rohit said, "Today we decided that we needed to get off to a good start. That's not my natural game - I usually like to get in and then build the innings – but I need to do whatever the team needs me to do. Today, I made an effort to try and play proper cricketing shots – not just slog – from the outset because run rate was a factor."
Kohli said, "Well, this was the plan in the two earlier matches as well (to play attacking cricket), but as I said, sometimes you just give in to the pressure. The other teams bowled really well to us and didn't let us get away with anything."
India lost tamely to Pakistan and Afghanistan in their first two matches, by 10 wickets and 8 wickets, leaving their chances of qualifying for the semis dependent on other results. For the Afghanistan match, Ravichandran Ashwin coming back into the T20I team after four years was one of the changes made as India looked to reboot.
Significantly, it was Rohit who attended the post-match press conference on Wednesday, and here too, he laid his cards out.

"I think the approach today from everyone was different, and I wish it was in the first two games, as well, but it didn't happen. But that can happen when you are on the road for a long time. Decision-making sometimes can be a problem, and that is exactly what happened in the first two games," Rohit said.

The news of Dravid's appointment was then given to Rohit at the press conference, who said: "Yeah, is it official? Obviously we were playing the game, so I had no idea. Congratulations to him for coming back but in a different capacity in the Indian team. We look forward to working with him. He's a stalwart of Indian cricket, and it'll be nice working with him in the future."

"Who do you see as the next Indian white-ball captain?" This was one of the questions for Rahul Dravid in his interview before being appointed as India head coach, according to The Indian Express. Dravid's first choice was Rohit Sharma for his experience, followed by KL Rahul.

Shastri and the other coaching staff members' contracts end at the end of the World Cup, so Dravid's appointment was long expected. It has somehow coincided with a seamless transition on the field as well.

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