The BCCI decided to send India’s U-19 World Cup team to New Zealand more than two weeks in advance after a request made by coach Rahul Dravid a month ago. The Prithvi Shaw-led 15-member squad, along with the support staff, left Mumbai on Thursday morning even though they play their first match of the showpiece tournament against Australia on January 14.
According to a board spokesperson, Dravid had asked for the early departure since he felt the youngsters would need extra time to get acclimatised to the conditions. It’s learnt the BCCI has organised three warm-up games against Central Districts.
“When Dravid came up with the request, the BCCI agreed. These boys have not played in New Zealand before and apart from the conditions, they will also have to get used to the changes to their daily cycle resulting from the different time zone.” “The board also felt the boys should get enough practice before they play their first game. So, apart from the two warm-up games scheduled by the ICC, they wanted to give additional practice games, which would be vital,” the spokesperson said.
On the eve of the team’s departure, Dravid ensured that India captain Virat Kohli spent some time interacting with the colts. Not just Kohli, Dravid also got a number of players from the previous World Cup campaigns to share their experiences with his team during the camp in Bengaluru last week.
“There was an opportunity for an interaction, and I wanted these boys to share their experiences. The World Cup is an experience surely but life after the World Cup brings a lot of experiences too, so the present crop of boys had an interaction with them in a relaxed environment. We had three good games, tough games. we managed to get five or seven U-19 players from the last batch, of course we didn’t want to pull the others out of the CK Nayudu Trophy or the Ranji Trophy but the ones who were available came up and participated,” Dravid said.
He also spoke about the value of getting used to the conditions quickly in order to counter the unique challenges that New Zealand will present to his team. “For us, it is about focusing on our cricket and trying to play sort of our brand of cricket, and just being aware of the different conditions that might be there, it is about adapting to that, adapting to those conditions quickly will be the key to us,” the former India captain said.