Suresh Raina picked Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Axar Patel as the most impressive youngsters in the current set-up, but overlooked Rishabh Pant due to the wicket-keeper now having become a ‘senior’. Raina also credited Rahul Dravid for laying the foundation for the youngsters’ success.
Through the growth of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and a robust domestic system, team India have developed strength in depth that is borderline-astonishing, and the quality of the reserves came to the team’s rescue in Australia when under the leadership of Ajinkya Rahane, a reserve Indian side scripted a famous 2-1 series win.
More pertinently, however, the up-and-coming players are in majority youngsters, something that bodes well for the future of the country. Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan, Washington Sundar and Rahul Chahar are all players in their early 20s who have endured breakthroughs across the past year, and the list is set to expand in the months to come, with the Indian cricketers set to play plenty of cricket across levels.
In a week’s time, team India will take on Sri Lanka with a young and inexperienced side, and ahead of the commencement of the tour, Suresh Raina has picked the three ‘most impressive youngsters’ currently in the set-up. Raina took the names of Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Axar Patel, all of whom are currently with the Indian side. While the two batters are in Sri Lanka with the limited-overs squad, Axar is in England with the senior side for the five-Test series that will commence in August.
"I think Devdutt Padikkal from Karnataka. After him, Ruturaj Gaikwad from Maharashtra. He is a gun player. Axar Patel has worked really hard, and he performed brilliantly well in the absence of Ravindra Jadeja," Raina told News 24 Sports, picking his three favorite youngsters from the set-up.
Raina’s list did not include Rishabh Pant, but when asked about the same, the veteran insisted that he did not factor in Pant as the wicket-keeper batsman has already transformed into a senior.
"See, he has entered the senior category. He's grown. He is also hitting fours now and not only sixes," Raina said of Pant.
The white-ball tour of Sri Lanka is being overseen by Rahul Dravid, who is the stand-in coach, and Raina credited the legendary batsman for bringing about the transformation within the youth. Dravid, over the past three years, has coached U19 and A sides and is currently the head of the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.
"Even Mohammed Siraj is bowling so well. And somewhere I feel credit goes to Rahul Dravid who has worked extremely hard with the Under-19 team which is why he is with the senior team now and my best wishes to Shikhar Dhawan, that he does well and return to the Test team because he too is a very big player for India and he must be hoping to perform well in Sri Lanka," Raina added.