Set to take guard as the coach of the Indian team, Rahul Dravid has signed off from his previous innings with a ‘masterstroke.’ With covid having halted junior cricket for the last two years, Dravid, who was till recently the head of the National Cricket Academy, had suggested to the BCCI to conduct the forthcoming Under-19 Challenger in Ahmedabad from November 2-10 as a six-team format, something that the Board agreed to. The tournament assumes significance in the light of the fact that it will be a selection tournament for the Under-19 World Cup, which will take place in the West Indies from the first week of January next year.
“It was an excellent idea from Dravid, which the BCCI has decided to implement. There’s been no junior cricket for the last two years, which has left many under-19 cricketers deprived of the sport. A few games in the recently held Vinoo Mankad Trophy were washed out. Six teams, consisting of 15 boys each, means that 90 boys will get a chance to make a case for themselves for selection into the India under-19 team. It will offer the selectors a wider pool of players to choose from. Initially, It was decided to pick 14 boys per team, but then BCCI secretary Jay Shah, in a meeting with the junior national selectors recently, proposed the number to be increased to 15, to enable more boys to get a chance,” a source in the BCCI said.
Dravid himself is likely to visit Ahmedabad to watch the tournament. The players have to report to the venue on Monday, and quarantine from October 25-30. They will then train on October 31 and 1. Three boys from Mumbai-Ayaz Khan, Angkrish Raghuwanshi and Prince Badiyani - have been picked for the U-19 Challengers.