The challenge now is to sail on the ocean, from the lake: Chairman of Selectors, S Sharath

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BCCI junior selection committee chairman S Sharath is delighted after India under-19 secured the World Cup for foals in the West Indies. Sharath and his team had met just a few months ago to pick the Indian team for the Junior World Cup and the pandemic made things difficult. In a chat with the indian expressthe former Tamil Nadu player spoke on various topics

EXTRACTS

It’s only been a few months since you took over as chairman of selectors, can you tell us how you decided to go about the process?

When Rahul was a coach in the NCA, we had a meeting with him and decided on the roadmap of how to do it. We decided first to have a group of players and for that we have to go to see the games all over the country. After the Vinoo Mankad tournament, we picked 90 players, divided them into six teams, and then had matches.

What were the challenges as a coach, especially in the time of Covid, where we don’t know what will happen next?

First of all, the credit must go to the BCCI for holding a tournament. In the last two years there has been no cricket because of the pandemic, I spoke to the players and they told us how frustrating it was to sit at home. Without a school, without a school, without land, it is an extraordinary situation. For us too we needed to watch as many games as we could to pick players because we didn’t know what would happen later. It was mentally draining for everyone and everyone felt refreshed when the children came and played cricket. We saw new talent and some that we saw were ready, ready for first-class cricket. We still have good players, who are not in the team because there was a lot of talent available.

How did the identification of the player occur?

We decided to pick two players for each slot and our focus was more on picking full players. There may be players who haven’t done well in league matches like the Vinoo Mankad Trophy, but we backed our guts and picked them in the Challenger Series. Players like Harnoor Singh didn’t do well in league games but we all felt he had it in him and can do well in critical situations so he was picked. He did well at the Challengers and scored three hundred in a row. Same with Ankrish Raghuvanshi, he scored once but we feel he is good so we picked him. Same with Nishant Sindhu, he won the Vinoo Mankad and was a utility player.

Is there a reason why you chose Yash Dhull as captain instead of Sindhu, whose team won the Vinoo Mankad Trophy?

The thing about Nishant is that we have Kaushal Tambe who is also an all-rounder, we wanted someone who could take care of a team. He can communicate with everyone. Nishant is a good player, but what we felt is that the whole plate is already full and sometimes they couldn’t think on a macro level. As Dhull is a batsman, a Delhi boy and a street smart cricketer, we feel he is our best bet.

The best part of this U-19 team is that it had a good bowling unit and more complete players?

Yes, we wanted to give options to the captain and the team management. Like Bawa, he is a bit tricky, Rajvardhan Hangargekar throws fast and hits the ground hard. Same with spinners, they are all different. The West Indies are close to the ocean, so the breeze plays a vital role, two new balls will be used, so the swing will come into play. We try to cover every area. We wanted multidimensional players, players who could hit up to number 10. We couldn’t find a decent leg spinner, so we chose a left arm spinner to cover for him.

How was your reaction when you were told that five players tested positive?

I was devastated, the children are not in India. No one knows how Covid will react to these children. These kids are under quarantine, like house arrest. I was told a day before to pray no one else tests positive because this India U19 team only had eleven players left and they will play Ireland the next day. West Indies is not close to Kochi so we didn’t know what to do. I will give more weight to the Ireland game, we won half of our battle there. It was a game where both starters hit very well. Credit must go to the support staff and BCCI for the way they handled the issue without a hitch.

Your reaction on the final?

I can see that each of them wanted to win the game on their own. I felt like Rasheed made a bad shot, if he hadn’t done it we would have finished it sooner. These guys are only 19 years old, they will learn as they play more. I still feel that the Ireland game was very crucial for me, I saw the coaches running around on the floor and serving drinks.

What advice would you give these players?

Be in the present, don’t go into anxiety mode. Focus on how your state team will do well in the Ranji Trophy. The biggest challenge begins now for these guys. They will now be picked ahead in senior or Indian teams due to their domestic performance and not the performance of India U-19s. These guys will sail on the ocean from the lake. Ranji Trophy can be ruthless. Get ready to grind. All those who played for India after the under-19 success, they all put in a lot of effort in domestic cricket. At this age it is very easy to get excited about things. Now they will wear sunglasses, IPL will come, they will change as a person. Ultimately, however, they will only be judged on their first-class cricket.

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