Rahul Dravid's hand in the rocking rookies
Not without spirit and belief could Mohammed Siraj, Shubman Gill, Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur, on their first Australian tour with the senior team, have together brought the hosts down at their citadel, the Gabba.
The game-changing performance was also the result of these fresh faces coming through an astute systemic platform laid by the low-profile Rahul Dravid. Ever since Dravid declined to apply for the India coach’s post, preferring to work with the U-19 and India A squads from 2015, India’s bench strength has expanded. Proof of the feeder-line engineered by Dravid and his support staff showed in the triumph in Australian where every uncapped player, including those who were there as net bowlers, had to step up.
Dravid's first big assignment was the 2016 U-19 World Cup from where Rishabh Pant and Washington Sundar emerged. Pant's fearless hitting set up the Brisbane victory; debutant Sundar dismissed Steve Smith and put up a virtuoso batting display in his first ever Test innings.
“Sundar looked like he had played 50 Tests… never looked out of place,” Ricky Ponting told Cricket Australia’s website.
Shubman Gill, whose second innings 91 sparked the tough chase, was in India’s victorious 2018 World Cup side led by Prithvi Shaw. Others from that team who were originally chosen as net bowlers are Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Ishan Porel. This too has the Dravid touch—sending rising talent as net bowlers with the India team to gain experience.
Mohammed Siraj is a fine example of exposure through Indian A and net-bowling programmes, having been to New Zealand, England and the West Indies. Siraj, like the other new names, is also a product of the domestic system—he took 41 Ranji Trophy wickets for Hyderabad in 2016-17 under Bharat Arun, now the India bowling coach.
Dravid now focuses on the National Cricket Academy, but even the seven reserves named for the England series are his legacy.
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