Former India opener WV Raman, who coached the India u-19 side on the recent tour of South Africa, reckons Virat Kohli’s team can win the World Cup, which starts on February 17 in Malaysia. Raman, who guided the team to victories in both the tri-series and the ‘Tests’, would be making way for Dav Whatmore in Malaysia.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Raman said the youngsters showed a lot of promise on the tour and were among the favourites for the title.
Was the South Africa tour good preparation for the World Cup? Weren’t the conditions very different to what the team would face in Malaysia?
In terms of the team playing together and getting a measure of their strengths and weaknesses the tour served its purpose. The trip also gave the team the opportunity to assess South Africa, who are in India’s pool in the World Cup. The conditions cannot be compared. Kuala Lumpur (KL) will be much, much more humid and sultry. And then, the pitches and the size of the grounds in KL will be different to the ones in SA.
Who were the stand-out performers, the ones to be watched in the future?
The batsmen were excellent in their approach and situational assessment. Virat Kohli, Sourav Tiwary, Manish Pandey and Tanmay Srivastav did well. Abhinav Mukund got off the blocks but failed to convert starts. The wicket-keeper Srivastava Goswami performed exceptionally as an opener in the one-dayers. As for the bowlers, Pradeep Sangwan and the spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Iqbal Abdullah bowled well. The ones to be watched are Virat Kohli, Tiwary, Pandey, Abhinav and Sangwan, but they need to go through the grind of first-class cricket for three more seasons.
India last won the U-19 World Cup in 2000 but failed in the subsequent editions. What are India’s chances this time?
Very high, because the boys have been playing together for a while and have gelled as a team. Their individual and collective cricketing acumen is arguably superior to most of the other teams. If they do half as well as they did in SA, they should regain the World Cup.
Some of the under-19 players have already become key players for their state sides. What does this suggest?
This is indicative of the fact that their talents are recognised and obviously the experience they have gained playing in the Ranji Trophy gives them a definite edge over the cricketers of other countries at this level.
What is the major concern for junior cricketers in India?
The promise shown by these youngsters does provide excitement and anticipation, but the critical issue is how well these promising youngsters are nurtured and prepared to facilitate their transition into senior cricket. I mean that they cannot be picked for India in a hurry. Besides, they should not be gauged based just on their performances in the one-day format of the game.
Do you think the likes of Appanna and Iqbal Abdulla can fill the gap once Anil Kumble retires?
Their talent notwithstanding, they have a long way to go before they can be considered for the senior side. The reason I say this is because as of now they have done well by catering to the demands of one-day cricket. They can be deemed ready only if they achieve more consistency in their line and length and pick up wickets regularly in the longer version of the game.
How was the trip for you? You must have met most boys for the first time…
The trip was excellent for me in that I was able to tune in to the wavelength of the boys fairly quickly. The time I had spent with them also helped me to get the best out of them in a short period.