India A v Australia A, 2nd unofficial Test, Chennai, 4th day August 1, 2015

Defeat eye-opener for youngsters - Dravid

Rahul Dravid: 'I think there is no real major issue [with Cheteshwar Pujara]. He is a very aware cricketer' © K Sivaraman

Rahul Dravid has begun his coaching career with a 0-1 series loss to Australia A in the two unofficial Tests, but the India A coach termed the defeat a "good eye-opener" for the players. He said A games, where the level of pressure is largely higher than in domestic cricket, will help prepare these young players for international cricket.

"Well, most of these are young batsmen, a lot of the guys in the team except Virat [Kohli] and [Cheteshwar] Pujara are all batsmen looking to establish themselves, looking to make a mark," Dravid said. "It is a good lesson for them against sustained disciplined bowling: you will have to work harder for your runs, it is not going to come that easily.

"Their bowlers bowled with a lot of good control. That meant that you had to bat well. We will have to learn. That's the thing about this series. You have to keep learning and keep improving. It is nice learning, because it is a good step up in level. These guys have played Ranji Trophy but sometimes it is not sustained pressure and quality. It is a good eye-opener for what they need to sustain at this level."

India A lost their last four wickets in 20 minutes for seven runs and then Australia wrapped up the series in quick time with over two sessions to spare. Dravid admitted it was difficult for his side to bat on the final day with sharper turn and bounce posing a greater threat. "Today can happen, one of the things batting with the tail-enders. The ball was turning, so it wasn't easy today."

Dravid, however, minced no words when it came to the first-innings performance, which had left the hosts playing catch-up right from the outset. "In the first innings, we could have batted better after winning the toss. It [135] was just not acceptable.

"On a track where it is going to deteriorate as the game goes on, if you get only 135 after you win the toss, you are always on the back foot. We were a bit hesitant. We weren't positive enough and getting out for 135, we had our backs to the wall."

Dravid also bemoaned the batsmen's inability to convert starts into big contributions in the second innings. Six of the top seven had moved into 30s, with only opener Abhinav Mukund making a fifty. On the other hand, the Australia A opener, Cameron Bancroft had kicked on to 150, which had set the game up for the visitors.

"In the second innings, when we got starts, we could have carried on. Someone, not everyone, is going to get a big score. It happens. But at least one of your top five [could have got a big one].

"Between 25-59, I think we had six batsmen. If at least one of those guys had gone on to get a hundred, you are looking at them [ Australia A] having to chase close to 170-180 in the second innings. So, that was one area the boys will look back on and say, 'We could have carried on.'

"Bancroft played really well. He looked good in the first match as well. In this game, he looked good and assured. It was exactly the kind of innings someone needed to play on this pitch. One batsman needed to carry on and make a big score. For them, it was Bancroft. The highlight was the fact he concentrated for a long time against spin."

The Sri Lanka-bound India A captain Cheteshwar Pujara, though, looked jittery in second game, often jabbing at balls outside off. He had managed only a brace of 11s here, but Dravid brushed aside any worry about his form as well as technique: "I think there is no real major issues. We have had some conversations on some stuff. He knows his game. He is a very aware cricketer.

"It was unlucky that he got run-out in the second innings. You want the guy to spend time in the middle and he gets run-out. He just needs some time in the middle, he needs confidence, he needs some runs. Hopefully, he goes to Sri Lanka and plays and spends some time out there."

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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