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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.