2018 U19 World Cup: Will Rahul Dravid find his pot of gold this time around?
It is an undeniable fact that Rahul Dravid was a champion performer for India, during his playing days. He did most of the yeomen work during his long career, essaying the role of the team man to perfection.
Dravid was a much-admired man in Indian and world cricket during his career and post that as well, he has developed a reputation for being someone who thinks about the betterment of the sport at all points.
But an element of sadness, amongst his greatest of fans, continues to linger on.
Why do common men and women like us admire champions? What separates them from the ordinary?
Why is Roger Federer the quintessential favourite of any tennis fan? Why was Michael Schumacher the most enviable Formula One drive at his peak?
Because they won major events in their sport. They not just won them on occasions, they won regularly, they made winning their mission. And at their peak, they both were almost unstoppable.
The feeling of Dravid not having lifted a single international crown as a player is something which continues to stay at the back of his supporters' mind, despite him having achieved so much with the bat in his playing days.
Opportunity to win the biggest prize in the game came thrice during his playing career. He and his team came the closest to seizing the moment the second time, playing superbly right throughout the competition, only to falter at the last hurdle to arguably the greatest team of all time.
What might have happened had the captain, who won the toss that day, opted to do the opposite to what he eventually did? Nobody will ever know.
The years passed by, Dravid scaled mountain-after-mountain, but the chance eluded him and on one fine day in 2012, he had had enough.
A sportsman's journey, however, does not completely end once he hangs his boots on the field, and if you have done something and achieved success in it for as long as 16 years, then it is difficult to stay away for a long time.
Just over three years later, when his other former teammates like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman preferred to stay away from taking up a full-time hands-on role in the game, Dravid took the tough route of grooming the next generation of Indian cricketers to ensure that they became better players and also better human beings.
Seven months later, Dravid had his chance again; this time with the India Under-19 turks in Bangladesh.
The team, led by Ishan Kishan, put in magnificent performances to set up a final's date with the West Indies in Mirpur.
Destiny smiled at him again. India carried the momentum, but the enigmatic West Indies were just a bit better.
I say a bit because the mediocre target of 146 runs was chased with just three balls left in the innings. The Men in Blue had fought until the end. The wait for the crown continued.
It seemed for a while that it could go on and on, until opportunity arrived once again on his doorstep, when last year he was given a contract extension to coach the 'A' team and the Under-19 team until the 2019 50-over World Cup.
After the disappointment of Bangladesh, Dravid has embarked on yet another journey, with another group of players, eager to shine on the big stage.
New Zealand will bring back happy memories for Dravid. As a player, he experienced some very memorable moments there.
A century in each innings at Hamilton in 1998. Being the highest run-getter for his side(131 runs at 32.75) in the two-matches Test series, when conditions were as adverse as they could get, in 2002.
Claiming the catch that fetched him the world record for the most catches in Test history in 2009. These and a few other moments will surely remain dear to him.
But the Under-19 World Cup that begins later this week, presents Dravid with an opportunity to put New Zealand in a category of its own in his mind and heart.
Like 2016, he has a very able army at his disposal in 2018 as well. Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Ishan Porel and many others have all shown the promise they possess.
Now it's about putting that together on the biggest stage. Can they now go that first step ahead and reclaim lost crown? Can they fill the one void that has refused to find a filling all these years?
Only time will tell. Happy Birthday, Jammy and All the best, again!