On Wednesday, at Jadavpur University’s Salt Lake Campus ground, the Indian Under-19 boys gathered around their coach after playing a practice game among themselves. Rahul Dravid was giving a team talk and the youngsters were all ears. They were a privileged lot, learning from the legend himself. Over the next couple of months they will hopefully try and get more from him as they prepare for the Under-19 World Cup in January-February.
Preparations for the showpiece event begin in earnest from tomorrow with a U-19 tri-series in Kolkata. Afghanistan and Bangladesh are the invitees. India’s first match is against Bangladesh and Dravid has already made it clear that results don’t matter at this stage. It’s the process which is important.
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The Dravid-way of cricket is about teaching young players to focus on match situations, elaborates Virat Singh of Jharkhand. “Rahul sir is putting emphasis on practice matches. Even in the nets we are doing situation-practice.
There’s always an imaginary scoreboard operating and he’s telling us to play according to situations. For example, the batters are being asked to face a situation when the score is 30/2. Bowlers, too, then have specific roles to play. If the situation changes and the score becomes 110/2, the tasks get redefined. Rahul sir is encouraging us to use our discretion. We’ve practised under him only for two days but I can tell you the sessions have helped us enhance our game awareness,” Virat said on the eve of the tournament opener.
The 17-year-old, a left-hand bat and leg-break bowler, made his first-class debut last season. Dravid must have seen some potential in him to make him one of the captaincy options. Ricky Bhui of Andhra is the other one. That’s because India will try out split-captaincy in the tri-series as well as squad rotation. It’s also why 20 players have been picked.
This is Dravid’s opening act with the U-19 side after he agreed to take charge of India ‘A’ and the colts. The young boys were a little nervous before their first meeting with the legend. But that soon evaporated. “The best thing about Dravid is that he’s very down to earth. He instantly made himself approachable to everyone. The boys are lucky to have him as their mentor. At the same time, we must thank Dravid for agreeing to work with the kids,” fielding coach Abhay Sharma said.