International Cricket

‘We have a great chance this time’: Dravid backs India to win first Test series in South Africa

The India team has won a record nine series in a row and will face the Proteas in three-match Test series staring on January 5.

Former India captain Rahul Dravid feels the Virat Kohli-led team has a “great chance” of winning their first Test series in South Africa next month given the depth of talent in the side. Dravid said the current Indian team has all bases covered for the three-match series in South Africa starting with the first Test in Cape Town from January 5.

However, the number one Test team, which has won a record nine series in a row, has only one warm-up fixture before the series-opener.

Depth in squad

“I think we have a great chance this time looking at the depth of the current side,” said Dravid. “We have got some quality quicks, we have the opportunity of playing the all-rounder (Hardik Pandya) if we need to. We have got quality spinners in Jadeja and Ashwin. What also excites me is that all our batsmen have been to South Africa before and they have the experience of 40-50 Tests. Having said that, you do need a bit of luck in those conditions, bit of rub of the green. If we get that, I am very confident about our chances,” said Dravid.

India have been playing non-stop cricket since the Champions Trophy, with captain Kohli complaining of not getting enough time to prepare for the South Africa. India’s ongoing series against Sri Lanka will end only on December 24. Dravid said it will be good to take the extra load off the players’ shoulders.

“Some years are tough (schedule wise) for the team and some are not. There is a lot of pressure on players but that is same for all teams. But it will be nice if we can balance the schedule though it is not an easy job.”

Recently, Kohli surpassed Dravid to be the second-highest century-maker for India across formats and is only behind Sachin Tendulkar now.

“The intensity that he brings on the field to inspire his teammates is what stands out for me,” said Dravid.

Under-19 World Cup

Dravid is currently coaching the India under-19 and India A sides and is gearing up for next year’s under-19 World Cup. The India U-19 squad endured a disastrous campaign in the Asia Cup last month but Dravid chose to look ahead with the World Cup starting in New Zealand from January 13.

Asked what went wrong at the Asia Cup, Dravid said, “Not much. At this level you are not looking at the results. They are young kids and sometimes you expect the results to not go your way. The U-19 level is all about giving opportunities to as many players as possible. That was the process we followed in the Asia Cup. I don’t stress too much on results. We are looking forward to the World Cup now and the three-week camp ahead of that starts in Bengaluru tomorrow.”

It was a collective decision by Dravid and selectors to make batting sensation Prithvi Shaw play the Ranji Trophy than the Asia Cup. India did not do well in the tournament but the 18- year-old has been sublime so far in the season with three centuries.

“We took a decision, a right decision that the boys who are playing Ranji Trophy should be allowed to play that. With U-19, what we are trying to move the players from junior level to the Ranji level and then hopefully the Indian team,” said Dravid. “The faster they get the opportunity that is the real goal. Nothing would make me happier if they go on to play for India A.”

However, Shaw will be back to lead India in the U-19 World Cup next month. Asked if Shaw is ready to play for India considering the success he has at the first-class level, Dravid said, “I don’t want to make that moment . He is a good player, he has started his season well but selectors will take a call on his future.”

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