Keen to do well in the overseas tour , with the forthcoming tour of Australia in mind as many as six players of the senior team including vice captain of the Test team Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Murali Vijay, Prithvi Shaw, Parthiv Patel and Hanuma Vihari figure in the A squad for the first unofficial Tests against New Zealand , scheduled in Mount Maunganui from November 16.
All these six players have also been picked for the four-Test series in Australia, beginning December 6. The India A team is coached by former India skipper and batting legend Rahul Dravid.
India A are scheduled to play three unofficial Tests and as many One-dayers in New Zealand. Dravid feels the youngsters in the squad will also benefit from the presence of seniors.
“I think it will be a very good opportunity for some of the boys who are requested by the senior team management to be a part of the A tour,” Dravid told BCCI.TV.
“They will be able to gain some match-time experience even if the conditions are not going to be exactly the same or it is not like being in Australia. The A team format is pretty competitive and it is match-time experience. It is a good opportunity in the lead up to international tours.”
The playing conditions will not be similar to Australia but it would still be valuable match practice for the Test regulars, who are part of the India A squad in New Zealand, insists Rahul Dravid.
“What we see nowadays is that there is not much time for practice or practice games in the lead up to an international series because of the amount of cricket that is being played.
“From Indian cricket’s perspective by organising these tours, we can give the boys a better chance to prepare for an international series. It is exciting to have the senior boys with us. The objective for us is to prepare them for Australia and at the same time, the younger boys get an opportunity to share the dressing room with them,” said the former India captain.
The tour has gained more significance as India just play only one warm-up game before the first Test begins at Adelaide on December 6.
“It is really nice to be able to hold such tours just before the Indian team visits these countries. We are trying to achieve that with the A team programme. We are trying to have shadow tours. We did it in England and we could obviously not do it in Australia, but it is great to go to New Zealand instead,” said Dravid.
The batting great said the focus will be on red-ball cricket during the team’s stay in New Zealand.
“The focus on the New Zealand tour is more about four-day cricket and I think we are playing really good white ball cricket. I have seen this on the A tour over the last two and a half years. We have been really competitive and building a very good bench strength. The IPL really helps in that department.
“The push from my perspective and some of the thinking and planning that has gone into is that we try and improve our longer format cricket, especially when travelling overseas.
“Keeping that in mind, we have increased the number of Test matches. We are trying to increase the amount of red ball cricket that our boys can get to experience.”