One player who has managed to turn his game around completely and become a regular starter for the country is Hardik Pandya. The youngster has, according to Rahul Dravid, played situations smartly and he hopes it’s a template other India A players can learn from.
Dravid was the coach of the India A squad to Australia and that was where Pandya was able to control his free-hitting approach to curb himself.
This adaptability in the recent ODI series against Australia has helped him win two Man of the Matches awards in addition to helping India win the series.
Rahul Dravid also said, “A good example about Hardik Pandya from my perspective is, he’s willing to play situations and not just the natural game we often speak about. Credit goes completely to him. He’s the one who has actually turned his career around.”
“It’s not about playing just the one way you want to play,” Rahul Dravid said.
“If he bats at four, he bats in a particular way. If he bats at six, he bats in a particular way. Tomorrow, he may bat at 80 for 4, like he did in the first ODI with Dhoni. That shows maturity and that’s what you want to see. This concept of ‘play your natural game’, which I hear all the time, frustrates me because there’s no such thing in my belief as ‘natural game.’
“It’s only about how you play different situations. Are you good enough to play when the score is 30 for 3, or 250 for 3? Are you good enough to bat when you go in first over or are you good enough to go in first ball after lunch? You have to learn to bat differently in different conditions, and if you can do that like Hardik is showing at the moment, those would be signs of a developing cricketer, someone who can make consistent contributions and not someone who is a one-off, who can produce brilliance once in a while. The aspiration and challenges set for a lot of India A players is to be all-weather players, all-situation players, all-condition players.”
Rahul Dravid was quoted saying this during India A’s practice for the Test against New Zealand A in Vijayawada. Dravid is one of the main reasons that a lot of youngsters are able to find spots in today’s team, as he is the U-19 Coach. His training also helped shape Rishabh Pant into a big-hitter who will hopefully make his mark in the squad soon.
Dravid said that it was important that eh recognized the ability of players and not let them still get carried away. A sense of smartness was all that is needed in order to make it count despite having immense natural hitting ability.
Rahul Dravid also said, “Experiences like these are good for him even if it doesn’t come off. If he goes back and thinks, ‘were there any other options I could have used rather than the ones I took, that may have helped me play better?’ he’s an improved player. These are the chats we have. He’s a talented kid and good at what he does; he has exceptional skill and exceptional ability. He’ll learn with more opportunities, and more games. That’s what these matches are about. I’m not too stressed about results. For me, it’s about if they’re learning from different situations.”
Earlier, Hardik Pandya had credited Rahul Darvid for his success during India A’s Australia tour.
“After the (T20) World Cup, I had a slight reality check, on how I can improve my game,” said Pandya in Kanpur, ahead of India’s first of three T20Is against England.
“The Australia tour was pretty important for me, where I learnt lots of things about my game,” said Pandya. “Rahul Dravid helped me a lot, talking to me about my game, and the mental things, where I have to always be there in the game,” Hardik Pandya had said.
You can read the full interview here: ESPNcricinfo.com