The second line of Indian cricketers returned on Wednesday morning from a month-long tour of Australia satisfied with their performances.
Coach Robin Singh summarised the trip as a “a very good performance. We won four of the six matches”.
Speaking to HT shortly after arriving from the Southern Hemisphere, where the Indians played in Cairns and Darwin against the 'A' sides of Pakistan, New Zealand and the hosts, Robin said: “We had different players playing well in different games. S Badrinath scored three fifties, Tejinder Pal Singh got a half-century, Gautam Gambhir was consistent throughout, Venu also did quite well, and so did Rohit Sharma.
“Unfortunately, only (left-arm speedster) Rudra Pratap Singh and (leg-spinner) Piyush Chawla were the main wicket takers,” Singh said from Chennai.
Chairman of selectors Kiran More was also happy with the performances of the players. “The overall performance has been brilliant. Some of the bowlers bowled despite carrying injuries, he said. “The team needed bowling replacements but they pulled through, I don't know how.”
Selector on tour, Bhupinder Singh, cleared the air about the players' breakdown. “Fast bowler Siddarth Trivedi fell ill after our first warm-up game and took nearly 15 days to recover,” he said. “Shib Shankar Paul also was injured. We considered replacements with the BCCI but as they showed signs of recovery, the idea was abandoned.” he added.
“As the cream of fast bowlers broke down, we had to totally rely on RP Singh and Chawla. They were our strike bowlers. Having said that, TP Singh and Reetinder Singh Sodhi also did a good job,” the former India fast bowler added.
Bhupinder said that the spinners particularly excelled in the first half of the tour in Darwin “where the conditions suited us.”
“It was hot there (Darwin) and the spinners excelled. Going to Cairns, where it was raining, the wickets were fast and the spinners struggled. Despite the conditions, we did very well in the four-day game against Australia 'A' and began well in our pursuit of the target of 482. Unfortunately, the last day was rained off. Needing 365 on the last day, we could’ve well achieved it.”
Robin was particularly pleased with the India 'A' concept. “You will be able to compete at the international level since the difference between the two is not very big. You are preparing the players for the next level. The other countries also have emerging players who are going to be their future stars."
Venugopal Rao also had a good outing with the bat in the first half of the tour with a 100 in the warm-up game and later impressed with the ball. Speaking from his hometown Vijayawada, he said: “It was a good trip overall. Everybody did well. We employed the rotation policy and gave everybody a chance.”
On the lessons learnt from the trip, Rao, who will occupy himself by playing in the competitive league cricket for Indian Overseas Bank in Chennai while waiting for the national call again, said: “We enjoyed playing in different types of wickets, learning how to cope up with the fast and bouncy tracks of Australia.
“International cricket, now-a-days, is more about fast bowling. In Australia, it is not easy to get runs. One has to be mentally strong too.”