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Match-time in NZ will help ahead of Australia tour: Rahul Dravid

The India A Head Coach talks about the growing importance of A tours and the kind of impact they make

Taking forward the concept of shadow tours where India A travels just before the senior side, a team led by India’s Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane and coached by Rahul Dravid has left for New Zealand.

India A will play three four-day games and as many one day matches. The tour has been designed in such a way that it helps the boys get a feel of the conditions and also in a way, help them prepare ahead of the marquee Test series against Australia.

Ahead of the tour, BCCI.TV caught up with the man playing a crucial role in helping talented Indian cricketers make a smooth transition to the national side.

India A are embarking on yet another overseas tour. What will be the broad objective that you will look to target from this tour?

It is exciting to be travelling to New Zealand with the India A team again. It is one of those countries where the conditions are a lot different from what our boys are used to back home. It is going to be a really good challenge. It will be an exciting opportunity for a lot of our players to experience what it is like playing there. A lot of them haven’t travelled there before and it will be a very good learning opportunity from our perspective.

This time we have taken a slightly more senior team. It will help us with the tour coming up in Australia later on in the season and also the fact that we travel to New Zealand next year.

As you mentioned there are many senior players for the first four-day game. You usually have boys who are aspiring to break into the national side. How different is it to have India players joining the A team?

It is really nice to be able to hold such tours just before the Indian team visits these countries. We are trying to achieve that with the A team programme. We are trying to have shadow tours. We did it in England and we could obviously not do it in Australia, but it is great to go to New Zealand instead.

I think it will be a very good opportunity for some of the boys who are requested by the senior team management to be a part of the A tour. They will be able to gain some match-time experience even if the conditions are not going to be exactly the same or it is not like being in Australia. The A team format is pretty competitive and it is match-time experience. It is a good opportunity in the lead up to international tours. What we see nowadays is that there is not much time for practice or practice games in the lead up to an international series because of the amount of cricket that is being played.

From Indian cricket’s perspective by organizing these tours we can give the boys a better chance to prepare for an international series. It is exciting to have the senior boys with us. The objective for us is to prepare them for Australia and at the same time, the younger boys get an opportunity to share the dressing room with them. The experience rubs off and we try and create that environment.

The senior team will later travel to New Zealand for ODIs and T20Is. From that perspective as well, the experience will matter.

The focus on the New Zealand tour is more about four-day cricket and I think we are playing really good white ball cricket. I have seen this on the A tour over the last two and a half years. We have been really competitive and building a very good bench strength. The IPL really helps in that department.

The push from my perspective and some of the thinking and planning that has gone into is that we try and improve our longer format cricket, especially when travelling overseas. Keeping that in mind, we have increased the number of Test matches. We did that we New Zealand came here. We requested them to play an additional game. We are trying to increase the amount of red ball cricket that our boys can get to experience.

Keeping in mind the next year’s ICC World Cup, any one-day game that is played by the boys in an around the national team, every white ball game is going to be important. 

Moulin Parikh
Moulin Parikh

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I’ll dive six times in an over for my team: Virat Kohli

The Indian captain speaks about his incredible 10k feat and why he is eager to put in his body on the line every single time.

As we sat down to interview Virat Kohli roughly 15 hours after he became the fastest man to score to 10000 ODI runs, we soon realized that we were not talking to a batsman who had battered everyone else, but to a leader of the pack.

The single biggest reason behind Virat’s unbelievable consistency is his process and in that process, personal glory moments have no place. ‘TEAM’ is the word that he swears by and all his energies are channelled to help the team’s cause.

In this chat with BCCI.TV, Virat says that when you are representing your country nothing ever can be taken for granted.

Personal milestones don’t matter to you, but scoring 10000 ODI runs is something incredible. What does this feat mean to you? 

I feel really grateful, I feel really blessed. I never imagined I’d get to see this stage in my one-day career. I am really thankful to god. I am very grateful right now. These things do not matter much, but to understand you have come this far in your career, playing for 10 years, is something quite special to me. I love the sport so much and you want to play it more and more, and that for me is the most important thing. I am just happy that I have been able to play for this long and hopefully, for many more years to come.

During your initial years in the Indian team, did you feel you could breach the 10k mark?

I never thought that this day would arrive one day. It just tells me that if you’re focused on your process and focused on the right things, then these things become irrelevant after a while because you are only focused on what you need to do on the field. These things are byproducts of that. My duty is to score runs and having done that for a long time now, everything else has collected for this moment. In every situation, the intention should always be to look forward to the team’s needs and score as many runs as possible 

It was only some time ago that you scored your 9000th ODI run and in just 11 innings after that, you brought up your 10000th run. Tell us about his quick jump.

Out of the last 11 innings, about eight or nine have been away from home. It’s only to do with the understanding that in South Africa and England we had tough series, so I wanted to take more responsibility and lead from the front if possible and think of the team all the time. I have been able to push my physical and mental abilities by just focusing on what the team needs. In that process, more runs have been scored than may be otherwise if I was thinking about my batting. I just focused on the situation and I am glad that I have been able to help the team by contributing with the bat.

It is again focusing on what the team needs and what a situation demands. All these things look good from the outside as a package, but from the inside as a player, you know you are always focused on your process. The most important thing is pushing hard for the team when you are down and out and pushing for those 10-12 extra overs, so the team can benefit from it.

The moment when you dived full stretch to complete your 150th run said many things about you. It meant that your intensity and commitment levels don’t drop and you are willing to put your body on the line even after batting for over 200 minutes.

It is a great honour to represent my country. Even after 10 years, I don’t feel I am entitled to anything here. You still have to work hard for every run you score at the international level for your country. There are many people who want this very badly. When you are yourself in that position, you should have the same hunger and passion. You should never take things for granted and never take it easy at any stage.

If I have to dive six times in an over, I will do it for the team. That is my duty and that is why I am selected to play for my country and that is a part of my job. It is not about doing anyone a favour or not showing anyone you are committed. It is purely about gaining an extra run for your team. The focus has to be that precise and that much finer at that moment. You have to push for that extra run rather than thinking I am tired or mentally not there. That’s my only intent to do things that my team needs all the time and helping the team in any way possible.

Moulin Parikh
Moulin Parikh

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