Stand-in coach for the Sri Lanka tour, Rahul Dravid insisted that the six matches will be a golden opportunity for the youngsters and asserted that the selectors will certainly take note of players who excel. Dravid also admitted that the players themselves will be keen to do well for the country.
Challenges thrown by the pandemic pushed India to select a young (second-string) side for the white-ball tour of Sri Lanka but while on one hand, the country does not have a full-strength team at its disposal, on the other, there’s a golden opportunity for the younger players to make their mark. Devdutt Padikkal, Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson and Ruturaj Gaikwad are among younger players who could potentially push their case for WT20 selection through a stellar showing and the same was acknowledged by Rahul Dravid.
Addressing the media on Sunday, Dravid, the stand-in coach for the Lanka tour, admitted that the national selectors will certainly ‘take note’ of the players who excel. Dravid said that there are no guarantees that the star performers will earn a WT20 call-up, but insisted that youngsters who thrive will certainly leave with their reputation enhanced.
“For a lot more people other than Prithvi as well… someone like Devdutt Padikkal or Ruturaj Gaikwad, a lot of the younger boys will be extremely keen to do well. Whether they get called up for the T20 WC is for the selectors to take. But certainly a good performance against international oppositions will help,” Dravid said on Sunday.
“If you can do well at this level, the selectors will certainly take note. No tour is a life and death situation; it’s not like just because you do well against Sri Lanka, you’ll make it, or vice versa. But performing in the pressure of international cricket, the selectors will certainly take note.”
Under normal circumstances, none of the aforementioned players would have made it to the original squad but the pandemic forcing the BCCI to pick two national teams - one of which is currently in England - has meant that the younger players have been provided with a golden opportunity. But while many feel that the ‘two national teams’ phenomenon could become the norm, Dravid disagreed.
The stand-in coach described the situation as a ‘short-term solution’ but raised his doubts over the feasibility of implementing the same over a long period.
"This is a unique situation, quarantines and stuff. It’s very hard to predict what’s going to happen even on a month on month basis. But at this point of time, when travel between countries is a challenge, at least in the short term, something like this might have to be followed. India probably had no option but to do this.
“I’m not really sure if this is a long term solution. There are a lot of stakeholders, going to involve boards, sponsors, media rights… so much goes into all of this. But in the short term, this will ease the pressure. It’s getting difficult for the same set of players to go through all the restrictions that are there currently. In the long term, it will need a lot more discussion.”
Dravid, head of the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, has previously coached U19 and India ‘A’ sides, but the Sri Lanka tour will be his first assignment with the national side. The former skipper described the white-ball tour as an opportunity for him to ‘learn and improve’.
“It’s a great blend of experienced players and fresh players. As a coach, it’s quite an exciting situation because you know if you create a good environment, everyone will learn a lot. We have to be together as a large group, there are opportunities to learn and grow. It’s a good chance for me as well, as a coach you’re always learning from every experience. You learn about yourself and about cricket. It’s another opportunity for me to learn and improve. I’m quite excited,” Dravid said.