Chennai: Rahul Dravid expects Virat Kohli to to deliver in his first full series as Test captain when the Indian cricket team leaves for Sri Lanka, besides backing the star batsman to continue playing in his 'aggressive' style.
Rahul Dravid. Pic/PTI
"I think you have to be who you are. The beauty of this game is that it allows different people to succeed. Most people who succeed in this game over a period of time are aggressive. It is just that they show it differently. Some are more expressive and some are not," said India A coach here today when asked about Kohli's on-field behaviour.
Dravid and Kohli got to discuss cricket at length as the Sri Lanka-bound skipper chose to warm-up in the 'A' game which the the home team lost to Australia won by 10 wickets to win the series.
Asked about his expectations from Kohli in the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka, Dravid said, "I would just say that every tour is important. I don't think we need to make this more important. Every international tour is important. As much as you can put a spin. So he has to try and do the best he can. He can only work with the team he has got and focus on getting the best out of them. Sometimes things will not go well and sometimes it will. He is obviously very keen and hardworking. So it was great for him to come in and play a game here. The time he spent here will do him a world of good. He is keen, excited and looking forward towards doing well," said the former India captain.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli are the batsmen who got match practice ahead of the Sri Lanka sojourn. Dravid, however, did not get into the details of what he spoke to Kohli and Pujara. "I am not going to be discussing technical issues of an individual with the media. We are constantly in conversation with Pujara, talking and working on a few things. It is nothing drastic or major. He (Pujara) just needs some time in the middle.
Dravid was sympathetic towards Pujara, who was run-out in the second innings against Australia A. "It was unlucky that he (Pujara) got run out. Hopefully, if he plays the side game in Lanka and spends sometime it will help. I don't think he has any major issues (with his technique). He is a very aware cricketer. Me and Kohli have had general chats. Not something very specific. But if you are spending four days with the Indian skipper, you are going to discuss cricket. But I am not going to come and tell you everything," said Dravid.
India A were outplayed by Australians in familiar conditions but Dravid said national team's bench strength was not a worry. "I wouldn't say it is a worry. We will have ups and downs but there is some exciting talent too. You can't judge them based on every single game. We will lose the odd game. Winning and losing an 'A' series is not the end of the world. You are actually preparing them for the international level. That is the goal.
"I have been quite happy to see some spin talent. Ojha (Pragyan) came back and bowled well. Shreyas Gopal has potential. Jayant Yadav is an exciting talent. There is Axar (Patel) and Karn (Sharma). So there is a group that is coming through. So it is not as it bleak as it seems. Same with batting. They can learn from this game and play better against South Africa," said Dravid referring to the series against South Africa A.
On the significance of A series, Dravid said it was hard to judge players. "At this level it is hard to judge success based on whether you win matches or lose. It is more about giving guys opportunities, thinking about what kind of players the national selectors are looking at in the long term and short term. There were some nice things to see. Some guys came well and performed. A lot of them had success right through the season. For a lot, it gives a good understanding of what is required at this level. So we need to get that balance between picking the most experienced guys to win these games and picking youngsters so that they can get games. For guys like Karun Nair, Shreyas Iyer, Shreyas Gopal, Baba Aparajith, Vijay Shankar this opportunity is great."
On the loss today, Dravid said the 135 in the first innings cost India A dear. "I am not so disappointed with today. Because it can happen. And we were batting with tail-enders and the ball was turning. But overall, I thought winning the toss and scoring 135 was not ideal. On a track that is going to deteriorate as the game goes on if you get only 135, you are always on the back foot and your back is against the wall. "Second innings we batted well. But the difference was that they had a man who went on and got a big hundred. We didn't. That is the point where we lost the game. I don't think we bowled too badly. We did okay. We should have got a few more runs in the first innings," he said referring to the 150 made by Australian opener Cameron Bancroft.
He added that he is enjoying his role with India A and doesn't see coaching a foreign team as now. "I don't think so. I am enjoying doing whatever I am. It is good fun," he said.