On eve of India’s Under-19 World Cup semi-final against arch-rivals Pakistan, coach Rahul Dravid expressed his excitement at the prospect of him seeing his wards experience playing in such a high-octane clash.
Speaking to the ICC’s media team, the former India captain maintained that the team would not approach the game any different from any other encounter.
“Our preparation and our planning doesn’t change at all,” Dravid was quoted as saying. “We don’t approach this game any differently from how we would any other game. We still approach it to play good cricket, try and execute our skills and hopefully the result will fall our way.
“But from an experience perspective, I’m excited about it. The fact that, irrespective of the results, we get our Under 19 boys to understand what it’s like to play an India-Pakistan game. At this level, it is all about experiences.”
India have not played Pakistan at the U-19 level since 2014 and Dravid feels this will only add to the intrigue around the game.
“It’s great that we’ve been able to, in a way, set up an India-Pakistan game as well,” Dravid said. “There is a different buzz about it in the sense that we know that the game is followed probably a little bit more closely than some of the other games we have.
For the last couple of years, we haven’t played Pakistan at this level, so it’s really nice for our boys to have that experience of actually playing against Pakistan,” he added.
‘It was always great to play Pakistan’
Dravid said he had fond memories while playing against Pakistan, stating that he got along well with a lot of players from across the border.
“Every game was important, but it’s just that you knew it was one of the most followed games in the world,” Dravid explained.
“For people it meant a lot more. As players, it doesn’t really change things, it doesn’t change how you practice and prepare. From my perspective, I really enjoyed playing Pakistan, they had a really good team in my time and had some great cricketers. It was always a privilege to play against them. We got on quite well with a lot of the Pakistani boys. It was always great to play them, we won sometimes, we lost sometimes, but we always came away with great experiences.”
Dravid, however, expects India to be tested by the Pakistan outfit in the semi-final. He is especially wary of their bowling, which he feels is one of the better attacks in the tournament.
“They bowled very well in this tournament, their strength is their bowling and they’ve shown that,” he said.
“We’ve batted well in this tournament so it’s going to be a good contest and we’re looking forward to it, looking forward to competing against a good bowling attack.
“I thought the Bangladeshi attack was really disciplined, Australia had a couple of decent quicks, so we’ve played some good bowlers in this tournament. But we do recognise that this Pakistani bowling attack is a good one, we respect that, and hopefully we’ll be well prepared and we’ll execute our skills well tomorrow,” he added.
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