Through the U-19 World Cup, coach Rahul Dravid kept emphasizing on the need for his wards to not focus just on winning, but the experiences that came while playing in such a high-profile tournament.
That they went on to lift the trophy was just the cherry on top of that cake. From beating some of their contemporaries on the world stage, that included wins in high-pressure games against Pakistan and Australia in the semi-final and final respectively.
After their victorious run, the young team and the support staff landed in Mumbai from New Zealand on Monday.
There was plenty of hullabaloo as they emerged from the airport gate. It was another experience that Dravid wanted his wards to have.
“I’m really happy that the 15 boys got to wear World Cup medal, got to win the World Cup. They deserve it,” Dravid said as he and his wards fielded questions from reports upon their arrival in Mumbai on Monday.
“Its been a lot of sacrifices, the way they played in the World Cup, the way they jelled as it, the quality of cricket they played - all these give you a lot of satisfaction. We were under pressure in a few games, but there were people who stood up and delivered,” said Dravid.
‘Time to quit age-level cricket’
India produced a clinical performance through the tournament, with players from nearly every department producing an impressive show. Dravid was effusive in his praise for his wards.
“The real satisfaction, in my opinion, is the process that was followed over the last 14-16 months, the whole planning and preparation that has gone into, not necessarily for this World Cup, but for developing the U-19 players. We have put in place a good process,” Dravid said.
“It was great team work, guys behind the scenes, the selectors, NCA, the BCCI setting up games and series. When you win a tournament like this it is a good reflection of the team work.”
But Dravid cautioned that a lot of work is in front of the players at the seniors level.
“The challenge and the hard work really start from here, we had couple of conversations on it. When we were there they showed a rerun of the 2012 finals and I started checking upon a few things. It is interesting; the result of the final is India beat Australia but six years down the line only one of those boys has played for India while 5-6 of them went on to play for Australia. Six years down the line, only the debatable point is that who won that final.
“Talent is there, ability is there, it’s about managing themselves, how to deal with pressure and the expectations that will come as U-19 champions. The hard work begins for them begins for us too. It’s not easy to get into the Indian side. At least if they become good first class cricketers, from then on it becomes a stepping stone to play for India.
He also felt these boys should now quit playing age level cricket, although he said it was his personal view but it was for the BCCI to decide on this matter.
“My view is quite well known. I feel that once the boys are good enough they should go on to play men’s cricket, especially those who had played first class cricket. We have seen from last year’s bunch five boys from that World Cup qualified to play this time. But we made a conscious decision not to pick them up for this World Cup as I felt it will be better for them to play u23 cricket and senior men’s cricket. I am not sure if it’s the best (option) for boys or Indian cricket if some of them go on to play in next U-19 World Cup.”
With inputs from PTI