'Foreign tours positive for Indian cricket' - Rajput

Jason Holder bowls Bhuvneshwar Kumar WICB

Lalchand Rajput, the India A coach, has praised the BCCI for arranging more overseas tours for the side, as it exposes India's future cricketers to different conditions for their all-round grooming. The India A squad is about to embark on a tour of New Zealand, which begins on September 18, after playing in the West Indies in June this year.

"The BCCI is doing a great job to send 'A' tour abroad more often," Rajput said. "These are the players who are the bench strength of the Indian team. Once these players go to other countries and get accustomed, and when they play for the country and tour, they are well-prepared."

The squad has assembled at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore for a training camp and Rajput was confident that the preparation would benefit ahead of the tour. The India A team that toured the West Indies had missed out on practice and that had reflected in their 2-1 loss in the unofficial Test series.

"We just had two days (before the West Indies tour), and we never had any practice games in the West Indies because it was raining, so we straightaway went to the Test match. There is no excuse, but I think a camp prepares you better for a tour. We are preparing as per New Zealand conditions, so it is good we are in Bangalore because it is as similar to New Zealand as possible. The main aim is to develop all our players to perform in New Zealand conditions.

"Any outstation tour is difficult. But I am sure the players are well prepared now, because when you go on away tours you must be mentally strong and that is the key for success."

The side includes Unmukt Chand, the captain of the Indian team that won the Under-19 World Cup in Australia. Rajput said the performance in the 'A' side would be a step in the right direction as these tours acts as a bridge between the Under-19 and the international levels of the game.

"You can't directly jump from Under-19 to senior team; there are steps to take. There is a process, and I think India A is part of the process. So you get success in India A and go to the Indian team.

"Chand is a very strong player. This is a real test for him. I am sure that if he can pass this course, next step is Indian team."

Yet, he said, the performances in the 'A' tours would ideally have to be backed by atleast a season of domestic cricket. "To judge a player, it is very important to play at least one season of first-class cricket. It could be Elite or Plate group, but one season of first-class makes them mature. They know what's coming at that level, and they are mentally better prepared."

India A is scheduled to play three one-dayers and two unofficial Tests in New Zealand.

India A squad: Abhinav Mukund (capt.), Naman Ojha (wk), Mandeep Singh, Anustup Majumdar, Unmukt Chand, Ashok Menaria, Ambati Rayudu, Suryakumar Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Akshay Darekar, Vinay Kumar, Shami Ahmed, Jalaj Saxena, Rahul Sharma, Rituraj Singh and Jaydev Unadkat