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Real challenge begins now: Dravid

Mumbai:India U-19 head coach Rahul Dravid feels the most satisfying part of the World Cup triumph was the process the team followed to reach the top. “The real satisfaction, in my opinion, is the process that was followed over the last 14-16 months. The whole planning, preparation, not necessarily for this World Cup, but for developing the U-19 players,” Dravid said after the team’s arrival from New Zealand here today. “It was great team work, guys behind the scenes, the selectors, NCA, BCCI setting up games and series. Winning a tournament like this is a good reflection of the team work.”
India won all their matches convincingly leading up to the final, where they beat Australia by eight wickets. Dravid, though, felt the team was not at its best in the summit clash. “We did not play our No. 1 game in the final, that we played in the quarterfinal (versus Bangladesh) and semifinal (against Pakistan). Just the fact that they played the final was an experience,” Dravid said.
“I’m really happy that 15 boys got to wear the World Cup medals. They deserve it. It’s been a lot of sacrifices, the way they played in the World Cup. The way they gelled, the quality of cricket they played — all this give you a lot of satisfaction. We were under pressure in a few games, but there were people who stood up and delivered,” the former India captain added.
Dravid said the real challenge begins now. “The challenge and the hard work really start from here, we had a couple of conversations on it. When we were there, they showed a rerun of the 2012 final and I started checking upon a few things.
“It is interesting… the result of the final was India beat Australia but six years down the line, only one of those boys has played for India, while 5-6 boys went on to play for Australia,” he said.
He felt a lot will depend on how the young players are managed. “Talent is there, ability is there, it’s about managing them, how to deal with pressure and the expectations that will come as U-19 champions,” he said.
“It’s not easy to get into the Indian side. At least if they become good first class cricketers, it becomes a stepping stone to play for India.”
Dravid signed off by advising the boys to quit age-level cricket and take the next step. “My view is quite well known. I feel that once the boys are good enough they should go on to play men’s cricket, especially those who have played first class cricket,” he said.
“Five boys from last World Cup qualified to play this time. But we made a conscious decision not to pick them as I felt it will be better for them to play U-23 cricket and senior men’s cricket.”