The pace attack, spearheaded by Jasprit Bumrah, has put India on the cusp of a famous win at the MCG. And former India captain and coach of the India-A and U-19 teams, Rahul Dravid, showered praise on the Indian pace battery.
Speaking at Guru Nanak college, where he was the chief guest for the final of the Chennai leg of the Muthoot Finance Junior Super Kings T20 cricket tournament, Dravid spoke about the ongoing India-Australia series, his coaching experience, and a lot more.
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On Pujara doing well
I do not like this comparison (when asked if he sees a bit of himself in Pujara). Each one is different. But he has been brilliant in the series.
Touch wood, India go on to win tomorrow (Sunday). He, then, would have played two match-winning innings in two Test matches that India would have won. That is what it is all about. At the end of the day, you want to produce a match-defining or match-turning innings.
And that is what Pujara has done; not only in this series, if you look through his career as well, a lot of his innings have come in quite difficult situations.
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So, yes, I think it is terrific the way he has been playing and the way the team has sort of rallied around him in some ways.
The manner in which he has come back after not getting picked for the first Test match in the UK was brilliant.
On India’s good bowling
It is fantastic to see the kind of bowling we have been doing. We have consistently been taking 20 wickets, and look like taking 20 wickets in every Test.
When you start a Test knowing your bowling attack can take 20 wickets, it gives you a huge fillip. You know you are going to be in the contest right through.
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At the moment, we have got four or five guys (fast bowlers). The bench strength in the fast bowling is pretty good. You’ve got (Mohammed) Siraj performing really well at the A-level. Navdeep Saini has done well for us. You have Ankit Rajpoot. It’s nice to see Varun Aaron taking wickets in the domestic scene again.
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There are guys coming through. But you need to keep working on it. That is the thing with fast bowling, and you have got to ensure you have got enough people (as backup).
We have a good focus on strength and fitness. Even the Ranji trophy teams now have good strength and conditioning coaches, and physiotherapists. Even right from the u-19 level, we have been managing our boys well.
I think it is about making better athletes. If you make better athletes with good guidance and coaching, you are going to make good fast bowlers.
We need to be happy with what we are doing at the moment, but we never should relax and realise we are always gonna need good bowlers; not only fast bowlers but also spinners.
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On the India-A and u-19 structures
I think the India-A and the u-19 programmes over the last two-three years have been really good. I have really enjoyed being a part of it and working to help set it up. It is really good to see the kind of talent that is coming through now and the talent we are getting to work with.
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It is just a question of us refining that process and constantly learning from all the tours and the series we get; how we can make it (the programme) more robust, and how we can give more opportunities to the players who are performing in the Ranji trophy. It is a really good and meaningful programme.
On what differentiates top cricketers at the highest level
In my experience of coaching over the last few years, one of the things that I see in the boys who tend to succeed more in pressure situations, or the ones who are succeeding in the big games, are people who are slightly more well-rounded personalities.
There’s a lot more to cricket than just skills. A lot of the game, as you go higher and higher, is about the mind - the mental side of the game. You need to understand your personality well. As much as you are growing as a cricketer, you also need to grow as a person.
After a point, the difference between each one of you will become less. The people who will stand out are the people who can handle the pressure better.
You have to start thinking about how your mind works now, as it will be the differentiating factor. Virat Kohli has as many skills as a lot of other people. But Kohli is mentally tougher than everyone else. He knows his game better than everyone else.