Last year, Rajat Paliwal, one of the prolific middle-order batsman in the Services team, made it to the India A squad against West Indies A and became the first player from Services to get a national call-up in 15 years.
The 22-year-old continued his good run in the 2013-14 Ranji Trophy season and has once again been selected in the India A squad to play two four-day-match series in Australia. This will be the first overseas tour for the Services batsman and second against a foreign team after a home series against the West Indies A last year.
Though he failed to impress against the West Indians as he managed just three runs and as many wickets in the series, Paliwal, in an interview with Cricketnext looked determined to right his wrongs and leave an impression on the Australia tour.
Congratulations on being selected for India A, but were you expecting the call-up?
Honestly, I did [expect a call-up]. I have scored good runs this [Ranji Trophy] season with three centuries. I am happy with my performance in the domestic cricket. I have been really working hard and finally it paid off.
How have your preparations been?
Recently, I have played a number of tournaments and I am in a good touch. I am spending a lot of time in the nets. My physio and coach are helping me during practice. My coach Deepak Bhaskar motivates me and says that I will do well in Australia. I practice for five to six hours every day and also take care of my fitness, while consulting my seniors during the practice sessions.
You will be playing against a formidable Australian side, and it will be your first overseas tour. Does that put you under pressure?
I know it is my first foreign trip but I am ready to take the challenge. I will grab the opportunity from both hands whatever comes my way. Australia are a strong side and known for turning the tide in any format of the game, but we have a strong batting and bowling line-up. We have experienced players who have played at the international level. Robin Uthappa, Manoj Tiwary, Pragya Ojha, Umesh Yadav and Amit Mishra are the backbone of our squad. They have a lot of experience that will help our team. I will learn a lot from them.
How do you plan to tackle the conditions in Australia?
The wickets will be bouncy in Australia. Pacers will get a lot of help. I am also practicing hard for it. I know it is my first foreign trip and that too against a strongest side in the world. I am desperate to take up the challenge and have the confidence that I will be able to handle the pressure. It will be an amazing experience for me.
As a youngster, are you nervous about sharing the dressing room with players who have already played in the senior India team?
Manoj Tiwary and Robin Uthappa are the experienced batsmen in our team. I know them very well. I have played with both of them in the Deodhar Trophy and Duleep Trophy, so adjusting with them won't be a problem for me. And when we travel in a squad, all players get to know each other very well. I am really excited to play with them especially Manoj and Robin bhai.
Don't you think failure to score runs against West Indies A will put your under pressure in Australia?
West Indies series is past for me and my focus is now on Australia now. I know I didn't score against the Caribbeans, but I don't want to think about it. Australia is a challenge for me now and I am focussing on that.
July 6-9: Four-day match at Allan Border Field, Queensland
July 13-16: Four-day match at Allan Border Field, Queensland
July 20-Aug 2: Quadrangular One-Day series in Northern Territory (Marrara Oval and Gardens Oval).
Four-day squad: KL Rahul, Jiwanjot Singh, Manoj Tiwary (c), Robin Uthappa, Ambati Rayudu, Karun Nair, Naman Ojha (wk), Pragyan Ojha, Umesh Yadav, Dhawal Kulkarni, Anureet Singh, Rajat Paliwal, Amit Mishra, Sandeep Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Baba Aparajith
One-day squad: Robin Uthappa (c), Unmukt Chand, Manish Pandey, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Sanju Samson (wk), Manoj Tiwary, Parvez Rasool, Akshar Patel, Dhawal Kulkarni, Rishi Dhawan, Mohit Sharma, Karn Sharma, Rahul Shukla, Manan Vohra and Jaidev Unadkat.