It has been close to two weeks that Rahul Dravid-mentored India U19 cricket team won the ICC U19 World Cup, defeating Australia in the final in New Zealand. While the celebrations have continued for some of the players, it is another working day for the junior selection committee, headed by Venkatesh Prasad, who was the behind the discovery of India pacer wonderkids like Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi.
The former India pacer, Venkatesh Prasad, has been busy spotting talent at age-group matches in Nagpur and Kanpur. The 48-year-old, who has also coached an India U19 team to the World Cup final in 2006, said in an interview with TOI, that the U19 World Cup winning players: Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivami Mavi, and others – were excellent, but the work was in progress.
Impressive bowling by Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi
When asked about how he would rate the excellent performances of the India U19 pacers, the foremost of whom were Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi, Venkatesh Prasad replied that no one had expected them to be bowling at speeds of over 140 km/h. The former India pacer said,
“It came as a surprise that they were bowling at that speed (140km/hr). That said, they are extremely athletic and very good fielders as well. They did generate some pace, but I’m not entirely sure we could peg it in the 140 range. Having said that, their performance augurs well for Indian cricket.”
Venkatesh Prasad also spoke about the exposure trips that the India U19 team was taken for, in order to prepare them for the U19 World Cup. When asked how important the India U19 outings were, Venkatesh Prasad said that everything was well-thought out and extensively planned with close cooperation from India U19 coach Rahul Dravid,
“It was very important. Rahul and I put a lot of time and effort into how to build this team, in terms of how to get the players get used to the conditions; the process of building confidence and helping them get used to playing at different venues. We put together a road map in which we wanted them to travel to places like South Africa, Australia and England, where they would get used to playing in different conditions and on seaming tracks. It did help them, especially when they went to England late last year and won the series there.”
Difference of opinion between Venkatesh Prasad and Rahul Dravid?
Venkatesh Prasad was asked in the interview whether he came across any forks in the road while charting out the India U19 plans with the zen-master Rahul Dravid. And as is expected in executing such extensive plans, Venkatesh Prasad’s answer was a Yes.
“Of course we (Rahul Dravid & Prasad) did. We didn’t agree on everything. He had his views and vice-versa. We had a lot of discussions and both of us knew we were talking and debating for the greater good of the game. We also respected each other’s point of view.”