KL Rahul, India’s new T20I vice-captain feels that newly appointed head coach Rahul Dravid will help setting a good team culture, helping players put the team ahead of personal goals. Rahul also lauded new T20I skipper Rohit Sharma, who he believes will bring a lot of calm in the dressing room.
The three-match T20I series against New Zealand, beginning Wednesday, November 17 in Jaipur, will mark the beginning of Rahul Dravid’s tenure as India’s full-time head coach and Rohit Sharma’s as the T20I captain.
Dravid has been instrumental in India’s young talents’ emergence in recent years, having coached the Under-19 and A teams, while also guiding players during his time at the National Cricket Academy (NCA), Bangalore.
KL Rahul, who has been under Dravid’s guidance ever since his formative years at the state team Karnataka, feels that the former India captain will offer a lot of learning lessons, and help in developing a healthy team culture.
"I've been very fortunate that I've known him for a very long time," Rahul said in a press conference on Monday. "Obviously as a youngster I did try and pick his brain and I did understand the game better, and understand the art of batting better from [having talked to] him, and he's been more than kind and he's been very helpful to all of us back home in Karnataka.
"Obviously since he's finished playing he's been [coaching] different teams and he's been helping the boys around the country, so to have him here with this set-up is a great opportunity for all of us to learn from him. We all know what a big name Rahul Dravid is in Indian cricket and the kind of things he has done for our country. So it'll be a great opportunity and great time for all of us to learn from him and get better as cricketers and understand the game better, and understand the game from his point of view.
"When it comes to coaching, I've played a couple of games with the India A set-up [under Dravid], and we've had a small chat just before coming out here for training, and he's somebody who's big on setting a good team culture and creating an atmosphere where people are thriving and trying to get better as people and as cricketers. He's always been a team man when he was playing, and that's the kind of culture he wants to bring in here as well, where everyone's putting the team ahead of personal goals."
Rahul is also keen to work as Rohit’s deputy, as the latter takes over from Virat Kohli as the new T20I captain. He feels that the five-time IPL winning captain will bring a sense of calm in the dressing room.
"There's nothing new about Rohit being captain," Rahul said. "For as long as I can remember, he's been Mumbai Indians' captain, and his stats are there for everybody to see. He has a great understanding of the game and tactically he's really, really good, and that's why he's been able to achieve the kind of things that he has as a leader.
"We all enjoy watching Rohit bat and we all enjoy having him in the dressing room. He's a great guy to be around, so I'm sure he's excited and all of us in the team are excited to play under Rohit and he'll bring a lot of calm into the dressing room.”
As for his own role as the team vice-captain, Rahul wishes to build a culture where every player feels comfortable and is clear about his role.
"I think it's a collective effort," Rahul said. "Whatever happens in a team sport, it's always a collective decision, and the leadership group becomes really important in making sure that everybody's feeling comfortable, everybody is clear about their roles, everybody is feeling secure in the team, and I think that will be an exciting challenge for all of us, to create that kind of environment, and we're really looking forward to it."
The three-match T20I series will be followed by a two-match Test series, beginning November 25.