India Under-19 coach Rahul Dravid, fresh from winning the World Cup in New Zealand, stated that he, along with his support staff, opted for a new squad for the 2018 edition.
India, on Saturday, became the first team to lift the U-19 title four times after beating Australia by eight wickets at Tauranga. Some of the players from the previous 2016 tournament – where India finished beaten finalists – were eligible for selection.
“We took a conscious decision of not picking certain boys who played in the last World Cup and were eligible for this World Cup,” Dravid was quoted as saying by Wisden. “That would have made the team definitely stronger and would have given us a better chance to win the World Cup. But in my opinion, that wouldn’t have been good for the boys themselves,” he added.
Some of the high-profile names from 2016 include Ishan Kishan, Washington Sundar and Arman Jaffer, who were eligible to make the cut in 2018 too. Dravid outlined that the process of handing the teenagers responsibility took precedence over fielding their strongest group, “I don’t believe they should be hanging around playing Under-19 cricket for too long. They had already matured and I think they’re too good for this level.”
“Some of these boys might not have got the opportunity to take up that responsibility – Prithvi [Shaw] might not have captained, Shubman [Gill] might not have had a chance to bat at No. 3 – things like that.”
‘We didn’t play well in the Asia Cup’
India U-19 had a poor outing in last year’s Asia Cup, failing to make the final after losing to Bangladesh and Nepal. However, given India’s fine showing in the U-19 World Cups – reaching the final in each of the last three events – there were high expectations, “To be fair, it didn’t look like that when we played in the Asia Cup few months ago. We lost in the Asia Cup even though admittedly it was a different team. But still I think we didn’t play well in the Asia Cup and got beaten by teams that played better than us,” Dravid said.
The 46-year-old also had words of praise for the manner in which his side steamrolled their opponents in New Zealand, “I think we prepared well and it sort of all came together. Very heartening, the kind of performances in the knockout stages.”
“We’re definitely a much improved side than the one that played in the first game. To have those kind of margins of victories against those teams – who I thought were pretty good sides as well – it’s heartening. I think everyone seemed switched on, determined. I think the work we put in practice paid off.”
“It is nice to know you are part of a winning team with whom you have put in so much of hard work. We’re part of a team, group of other people. It feels nice, my kids are chuffed and they woke up early in the morning to watch the game. They are really happy, and that always makes me happy,” he added.
Read the full interview here