With the Under-19 cricket World Cup due to start on January 27, India chief coach Rahul Dravid on Tuesday said his biggest challenge ahead of the tournament was to select the best-15 set of players from the 30 probables because of 'excess talent' in the pool of players.
India's Under-19 coach Rahul Dravid along with team captain Ishan Kishan (L) during a press conference in Mumbai. Pic/PTI
India will take on Ireland (after Australia pulled out due to security concerns) in their opening match to be held at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on January 28. The three-time winners (2000, 2008, 2012) are clubbed in Group D with Ireland, New Zealand and Nepal.
“The biggest challenge for me was to select the best 15 players out of 30 because of excess talent. All the players are so much talented that it is difficult to keep someone away and that was really tough for me. We rotated the squad a lot for the last few months and came to this best 15 we have now,” Dravid said at a press conference before leaving for Bangladesh.
"I have told the players to play their natural game. I have stressed a lot on rotating the strike which pulls the pressure down from one individual. The biggest advantage is that all of them can play big shots and the distance they cover is incredible," the former India captain added.
Speaking about the preparations for the upcoming tournament, former India skipper was confident in saying that be it batsmen, bowlers or all-rounders, all looked in good shape after successful couple of limited-overs series last year.
Jharkhand wicketkeeper-batsman Ishan Kishan was named as captain for the side.
Kishan had recently led India to a series win in an U-19 tri-nation tournament also involving Sri Lanka and England, in Sri Lanka. Two weeks before that, India won another tri-nation event, beating Bangladesh and Afghanistan in Kolkata.
Praising the 17-year-old, Dravid said the Jharkhand-based batsman was the right person to lead the side.
"We tried out different captains and went with Kishan. Me and the selectors have thought that he would be the best person to lead the side," he said.
Dravid said that Rishabh Pant (vice-captain) will be the wicket-keeper as Kishan can focus on his captaincy.
The 43-year-old said that the tournament is just a step ahead in the players career adding that representing the senior team must be the main goal for the players.
"This World Cup will be an opportunity for the youngsters to prove themselves; this is just one step in their career. The main aim for the boys should be to represent the senior team and all the boys have the talent in them to do so," Dravid said.
"This tournament will give them the exposure and have a fun time out there. There should be more U-19 matches played to make them used to with the international cricket and fit for the world stage," the batting legend concluded.