Copy of 20211108351L-1636395001591
Ravi Shastri will now be replaced by Rahul Dravid after five years in the job as India's head coach. Image Credit: ANI

Dubai: Much as one tried to focus on the competitive angle of the India-Namibia match – the last of the Super-12 stages of this T20 World Cup – it was a difficult task. There were too many emotions at stake for the Indian cricket fans at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Monday evening.

For one, it signalled the signing off game of the Men in Blue after a rather forgettable outing in this tournament where they had come in as one of the favourites. The sense of occasion was not lost on the 5,000-strong expat crowd who had come all the way on a weekday – for a match of no consequence.

Rohit Sharma, who was virtually anointed as the next T20 captain though not in as many words by the outgoing skipper Virat Kohli before the game, and his opening partner KL Rahul were in the mood to entertain the appreciative crowd one last time. The pair helped themselves to two delightful half-centuries under perfect batting conditions – this one being the Hitman’s second in the tournament while Rahul’s was third on the trot.

No guarantee

The end of the Virat Kohli-Ravi Shastri era, however, came as an anti-climax. The setting would have been perfect on the winners’ podium or may be a high profile clash, but then sport offers you no guarantee for fairytale endings. Kohli the batsman, and of course the Test and ODI captain as of now, will continue to wield his influence on international cricket as he assured that there will be always that “120% effort” from his side.

Asked what would his approach be in future T20 games since he would be no more the captain, Kohli said: “My emotions will never change. Even when I was not the captain, I was ready with my inputs and I will continue to give my 120% whether I am the captain or not.”

Speaking at the toss earlier, Kohli said: “It’s been an honour for me, I was given the opportunity and I tried to do my best. But it’s also time to create some space and move forward. I’ve been immensely proud of how the team has played. Now I think it’s time for the next lot to stake this team forward. Obviously Rohit is here and he’s overlooking things for a while now.”

Tough times

Shastri, whose excellent chemistry with Kohli had often polarized opinions among Indian cricket fans and experts, did not mince words in pointing out that the bubble fatigue did play it’s part behind the underwhelming performance of the team in this tournament. “Let me tell you one thing – if you put Sir Don Bradman in a bio bubble, his average would drop. This team has a number of players who play in all three formats and they have been hardly at home for 25 days in last 24 months. You better be careful, but otherwise this bubble will burst one day. These were tough times but the boys hung in there. As I see it In life, it’s not what you accomplish but you overcome,” he tried to put things in perspective.

Summing his journey with the Indian team after the game, Shastri reiterated: “My role since 2014 (there was a gap when Anil Kumble took over) has given me a tremendous job satisfaction. No Asian team has beaten Australia – but we have done it twice but we have left a series drawn in England. In white ball cricket, we have won everywhere and I would say this team has overachieved. The one thing that is missing that is an ICC trophy. Rahul Dravid is coming as coach, he was a great player and he would certainly raise the bar and they will again get a chance next year. It’s not everyday that you have another World Cup coming in an year,” he added.