Rahul Dravid, India’s Under-19 coach, said they have focussed on the ability to rotate strike ahead of the Under-19 World Cup, starting in Bangladesh from January 27. He added had more than winning the tournament, he would be happier if some of the players in the team go on to play for India at the senior level. (Rahul Dravid Coaching us is Dream Come True: Sarfaraz Khan)
“One of the things I had stressed on was the ability to rotate the strike. It takes a lot of pressure off you. I talked about it a lot to the players,” said Dravid here on Wednesday, on the eve of the team’s departure.
“All these boys can play big shots. They are in a generation where they are practising playing the big shots and some of the sixes they hit boggle the mind.
“We had played on very good wickets over the last couple of months. But you may not get wickets where you can score 300 plus. There will be 240-250 plus wickets. They have learnt to rotate the strike but they can always get better and improve.”
More than winning the tournament, Dravid said he would be happy to see the players growing to represent the country at the senior level.
“I am not trying to win the World Cup as a coach, but in developing these guys. Winning these Under 19 World Cups is not the be-all-and-end all. I will be happier if some of these guys represent India. That should be their aim and real aspiration.
India are in Group D along side New Zealand, Ireland and Nepal. Top two teams in each of the four groups will go to the quarterfinals.
Dravid was satisfied with the preparations of the squad going into the tournament, which India won thrice (2000 in Sri Lanka, 2008 in Malaysia and 2012 in Australia).
“We have got good preparations over the last two months and played some good games in Mumbai. For a lot of these players it started in October in the domestic one-day cricket. Then we played a tournament in Kolkata with Afghanistan and Bangladesh U-19 squads. The squad was whittled down to 18 and it was then taken to Sri Lanka.
“The biggest challenge and the hardest thing for me and the selectors was to bring down the number of players from 36 to 15. Everyone is talented. That’s why we rotated the squad,” said Dravid.