Dravid: Agarkar and his selectors pushed India to pick new players

After winning a series in which injuries, player unavailability, workload management and general transition forced India to give out five debuts – their joint-equal highest after their very first series – India’s coach has reserved special praise for the selectors, who, Rahul Dravid said, “pushed and challenged” the team management to play new options.

At various points in the series, India missed Mohammed Shami, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Siraj, but were 4-1 victors despite losing the first Test. The commentators of the broadcast were congratulating Dravid and the support staff when he made a special mention for the selectors.

“I’d just like to give a big shoutout to Ajit [Agarkar, chairman of selectors] and his team as well,” Dravid said. “A lot of the youngsters that come in, honestly, as a coach and as a captain, we don’t actually get to see them because we don’t see as much domestic cricket as Ajit and his team of selectors do. And they’ve pushed us and they’ve challenged us to pick some of these young players and they’ve picked the right ones and they’ve come out here and performed. So sometimes it’s not easy being a selector because you always get the criticism but a big credit and a big pat on the back to Ajit and his team as well.”

One of the selections that worked out splendidly was wicketkeeper Dhruv Jurel, who was picked with an experience of just 15 first-class matches. The wicketkeeper had become a tricky spot for India in Pant’s absence especially with Ishan Kishan practically making himself unavailable for international cricket. However, just in his second Test Jurel prevented India from falling behind by a huge margin in Ranchi, a performance that bagged him the Player-of-the-Match award.
Considering the high number of newcomers in the side, India needed some of the relative youngsters to put in veteran performances. Yashasvi Jaiswal, experience of four Tests coming into the series, and Kuldeep Yadav, eight caps coming into the series, stood up throughout. Jaiswal bagged the Player-of-the-Series award, becoming only the second India batter to score 700 or more in a series, and Kuldeep became the fastest Indian bowler and the second-fastest spinner overall to 50 Test wickets.

Rohit was full of praise for them. “It was a long conversation [with Kuldeep, when he was down and out],” Rohit said. “It’s not maybe once or twice. It was over a period of time that we had conversations with him. Certainly, has got a lot of potential. We know that he can be a match-winner on his day. We saw in the first innings where chips were down a little bit. He came and bowled pretty well.

“He’s got something about him, which we all need to be happy about. After his injury – he had a knee injury a couple of years back – he has worked hard at NCA, worked with his coaches, and is putting a lot of body into the ball, which is good to see. The most pleasing was his batting through the series.”

Rohit had been wary of praising Jaiswal too much lest he jinx him, but once the series was over he let himself celebrate his opening partner. “I can talk about him now,” Rohit said. “Guy’s got a long way to go. Started off really well. This is amazing to be in this position for him personally. We saw through the series he wants to take on the bowlers and that is something that we want to encourage. When the guy’s got talent like that, who can play the shots like that, puts bowlers under pressure from the word go, that’s something that we want to encourage and something we want to take forward.

“Obviously there will be a lot of challenges for him moving forward, but I’m pretty sure he is a tough guy. He has come a long way to where he is right now. So obviously he will understand what he needs to do individually and then what the team expects from him as well.”

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