Bengaluru, Nov 18 (PTI) Few days before the Indian cricket team entered an unbreachable World Cup bubble, head coach Rahul Dravid met a few of his old friends here for a chill time. The studious Dravid was for once sidelined by his relaxed avatar in that stress-free atmosphere. Perhaps, it's his pressure relieving mechanism.
It made sense too because Dravid would be cutting himself away from the outside world for the next month or so, except for those mandatory press meets, post-match presentation appearances and obliging a few persistent fans' requests for autographs or selfies.
It is not an easy life even for someone like Dravid, whose touch points with cricket spread across decades, formats and varied roles.
We have heard players stressing on the importance of shutting out outside noise during big events, but the job of Indian cricket team's head coach is equally or even more demanding.
Dravid is not alien to criticism. During his playing days, the Bengaluru man had faced shrapnel pounding because of his ‘slow batting’ in ODIs.
Once he turned into a coach, people turned their focus on how the 50-year-old couldn’t guide the Indian team to a title. ‘Sack Dravid’ was the most trending hashtag not too long ago.
This relentless pounding on the mental walls would have been unbearable for anyone. But Dravid is cut from a different cloth.
Sujith Somasundar, the former India and Karnataka batsman, has seen Dravid up close for a long while now and he thinks all the brouhaha would not have affected his old mate.
"Rahul is very good at compartmentalising. He knows when to get serious and when to unwind a bit. He would not have been the great cricketer that he is now without that ability, isn’t it? said Somasundar.
"Yes, he is a person who always loves to have a meaningful conversation regardless of the subject, which others might take him for being a serious person." Serious person, it is a tag that people have often prefixed Dravid with from his early years. Perhaps, he has also contributed to the whole image around him.
The former Indian captain is not a social media pundit reeling out his wisdom in 280 words, does not make Insta reels about his new car or dog or holidays and does not appear in TV shows to shout his opinions to the universe.
He is a private man, who occasionally gets clicked in a lit fest or a book reading session or while dropping his kids at school.
But that does not mean Dravid is an introvert.
"If someone does not speak loudly, then he is an introvert, or if someone speaks around a lot, then we brand him as an outgoing person. It is mere perception. It is very much so in Dravid’s case.
"Yes, he is a person who loves to be within himself, maybe with a book. But that does not mean he is not having fun or relaxing. Everyone has their own way of finding that fun-part in their lives, Rahul has his own," said Somasundar.
"Around a coffee table, Rahul can speak about a lot of things – his school or college days, about old friends, generally about life and so many such topics, and it is just that he is a deep thinker about all these," added Somasundar.
Swapnil Asnodkar, who played under Rahul Dravid at Rajasthan Royals, vouched for it.
"He may come off as a very serious person for outsiders, but he does not make you feel uneasy in the dressing room.
"He treats everyone the same. He has time for everyone, it doesn’t matter if you are a franchise owner or a daily wage worker on the ground. As a captain or coach, he will not allow pressure to get the better of you,” he said.
Asnodkar's words found resonance in Somasundar.
"He has always been a grounded person despite his achievements. Perhaps, it has allowed him to understand that as a high-profile sportsperson he will have to tackle pressure on a daily basis.
"He understands what players go through (in top-level events) and he can put them at ease. So, I think it helps him to be a good coach, a good mentor," he noted.
This Indian side has already shown benefits of having that Dravid trait in its DNA in this World Cup. PTI UNG AT AT