Rahul Dravid, India's batting hero in their victory in the first Test against West Indies, has come out in support of the young talent breaking into the national team. India entered the series with a depleted side in the absence of first-choice players Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Zaheer Khan, and it took a typically determined second-innings century from Dravid to set up the 63-run win in Jamaica. The young batsmen who came into the XI - with the exception of Suresh Raina in the first innings - wasted the opportunity to impress, but Dravid was confident that they would come good if backed consistently.
"These youngsters are even better than we were, in terms of talent," Dravid said after the match. "We put too much pressure on youngsters; we need to relax and give them time, we need to be patient with them, and we can't be questioning them after every one or two matches."
The Kingston Test marks 15 years since Dravid debuted along with Sourav Ganguly at Lord's in 1996, a series in which both did exceptionally well. VVS Laxman also debuted the same year, completing the core of what was to eventually become a world-class middle order, along with Tendulkar.
Dravid said the next generation of players had the potential to surpass even the class of 96. "We all needed time - we have been around for 15 years since we were given a bit of time and you can't expect performances straight away," Dravid said. "To be fair to these guys, they have been performing brilliantly in ODIs and I believe Indian cricket is in good hands and these youngsters are going to perform much better than we did even."
Dravid, along with VVS Laxman and MS Dhoni, played in Kingston without much time to acclimatise to the Caribbean or playing practice games. Dravid said it was one of the issues the team grappled with in Jamaica and hoped for improvements before the second Test in Barbados from the 28th.
"We know we need to do better than we did in this Test," Dravid said. "If we are honest we know there are areas we need to improve on, and hopefully we will get that right in Barbados. It has not been easy: a lot of guys have come off a flight two-three days before the Test and there's been no practice game. Hopefully this win is a good lead-up, and the guys will do better in the next game."