New Delhi: From a time when players first got a feel of foreign conditions only after donning the national cap to the current scenario where junior and ‘A’ teams play consistently outside India, things have definitely changed in Indian cricket.
Indian teams have often been known to be tigers at home, but they have been poor travellers for much of the country’s cricketing history, and that is one of the reasons that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has put a lot of emphasis on arranging foreign tours in recent times.
Batting legend Rahul Dravid feels that this initiative by the BCCI is a step in the right direction.
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In a similar effort to help the top young batsmen — Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Ajinkya Rahane -- the Board had sent an ‘A’ team to South Africa in August. Dravid feels that this will help the team during the three-ODI and two-Test series this month.
“It always helps when you get exposure. This Indian team might have a lot of youngsters, but not only are they talented, but also have an experience of playing in South Africa, so that will definitely stand them in good stead. Such tours give you a lot of confidence,” he said.
In fact, Dravid rued the fact that these tours weren’t organised when he started playing and had it not been for some trips — not arranged by the BCCI — he had made to England, he would have been a fish out of water during his debut tour in 1996.
“When we started, there were a lot of matches played at home, but the concept of playing abroad wasn’t there as much. I had gone there [to England] a few times to play, else I wouldn’t have had any idea as to how conditions are when you play in England,” the 40-year-old former cricketer said.
Critics might have blasted Cricket South Africa for hosting the matches against India ‘A’ on the flattest of wickets, but it was still better than having no clue about the conditions. While Dhawan (410 runs from four games) and Vijay (100 runs from two games) made hay in the 50-over matches also featuring Australia ‘A’, Rohit (119 runs from one match) and Pujara (193 runs from two matches) dominated proceedings during the two unofficial Test matches against South Africa ‘A’.
Dhawan in fact, went on to hit 248 in one of the 50-over matches against South Africa ‘A’. Pujara — often considered suited to the longer format — also showcased his skills in the same match by scoring a century as he scored 199 runs in the five one-dayers.
Interestingly, Suresh Raina, who hasn’t been considered by the Indian selectors for the longer format in recent times, scored 135 runs in the only innings that he played in the unofficial Test series.
The bowlers, though, might find the going slightly tougher as Mohammed Shami is the only bowler in the current team who was part of that ‘A’ team.
Reproduced from Mail Today. Copyright 2013. MTNPL. All rights reserved.