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'Not Easy to Balance Ranji and A Team Cricket' - Dravid

"I have no doubt that he has got quality and ability. He is playing four-day games as well and he has shown that he can succeed at the international level in all three formats"

PTI |February 1, 2019, 10:36 AM IST
'Not Easy to Balance Ranji and A Team Cricket' - Dravid

Thiruvananthapuram: There has been no change in KL Rahul's wretched form even after his comeback from suspension but India A coach Rahul Dravid is not worried as he has confidence in the talented opener's quality.

Rahul was suspended by the BCCI for his sexist comments on a TV chat show and the ban was subsequently lifted subject to an inquiry by a court- appointed ombudsman.

The Karnataka opener, who made a comeback to competitive cricket with India A assignment, had scores of 13, 42 and 0 against England Lions in three one-day games.

"He (KL) got a good first ball today as it seamed. I have no doubt that he has got quality and ability. He is playing four-day games as well and he has shown that he can succeed at the international level in all three formats," Dravid told reporters after India A clinched the five-match limited overs series 4-1.

"He has got a hundred in T20, ODI and Test and not many batsmen have that record. He is a proven performer and I am not too worried about his form," the India A coach said.

Asked if the purpose of playing senior team players like Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Rahul or Hanuma Vihari was served, the former India captain provided the broader perspective.

"India A is always a combination of two things. There's always some players coming in from India (senior national team) and there are some other senior boys selectors want to see. They are looking at players some from a short-term perspective and there are other boys they are looking at medium and long term perspective. India A is a balance of both," he explained.

While he didn't take names, Dravid indicated that there are some players that national selectors are looking purely on a short-term basis for the next two months.

It could well be Pant, Rahane and Rahul, who are in the scheme of things as far as World Cup is concerned.

"It's always not about results. There are some players who we are looking at for the next 12 or 18 months. For some, the next couple of months might be important as they are trying to impress the selectors. As much as we have seen seniors like Rahane, Rahul and Vihari, we have also seen a Himmat Singh (Delhi), Ricky Bhui (Andhra) or Ruturaj Gaekwad (Maharashtra)," the coach said.

There have been discussions about how India A tours and home series clashing with Ranji Trophy has affected the quality of competition at the domestic level but Dravid said it's only for the betterment of talented players.

"It's not an easy one to avoid but if you would have noticed in this series, we didn't pick anyone who was involved in the Ranji Trophy, so we gave that importance to the quarterfinals, semi-finals and the final of the Ranji Trophy," said Dravid.

"But it's not easy as we have to balance out the needs of some of these players. We have to develop those players and give them a level and standard that is higher than domestic cricket. If we don't challenge our players at a level higher than domestic or first-class, how are we going to develop them to play international cricket.

"Lot of these tours are reciprocal and we have to balance it out, possibly try and not clash but when clash happens it's inevitable," he further explained.

Dravid also sounded confident that the Indian team under Virat Kohli will "peak during next few months" as they go into the World Cup in England as one of the tournament favourites.

India have now won three away ODI series in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand and are considered by many as the team to beat at the global event which begins on May 30.

"I think India are playing very good cricket at the moment and go in as one of the favourites. Hopefully, we will peak in the next few months," he said.

"Wickets will be very flat in England and I expect it to be quite a high-scoring World Cup. When we were in England with A team, 300 was regularly scored," Dravid said, citing how things have changed in the last two decades.

"A lot more runs will be scored compared to the 1999 World Cup, where we used the Dukes white ball. The white Kookaburra with two new balls, revised field restrictions (different Powerplays) are different, so you can't compare the two World Cups."

Dravid, who will be a part of BCCI's core programme on behavioural and life coaching for young cricketers, feels that a need to broaden the horizon is imperative for young minds. In a nutshell, an alternative career if cricket doesn't bring the desired results.

"There's a need to broaden the horizon and we need to look at other options also which gives them certain skills and talent. Even if it's not necessarily formal education but something that might help them once they finish their cricket. It's just a thought and let's see where it leads us," he signed off.

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