India-Pakistan cricket games at all levels garner attention. No long ago, Virat Kohli's men had failed terribly against Pakistan to hand them the ICC Champions Trophy in England. They haven't had any opportunity to settle the score since, but India's Under-19 stars can salve some of the country's wounded pride when they take on Pakistan's Under-19s in the semi-finals of the World Cup in New Zealand on Tuesday.
The tendency to keep thinking about "revenge"can often bring disastrous results. Luckily for the Indian Under-19 team, they have coach Rahul "Composure" Dravid to ensure that the revenge talk doesn't completely blow them over. While the entire country is working itself up over the prospect of the encounter against the arch-rivals, Dravid is keeping his wits about him.
“Our preparation and our planning doesn’t change at all. We don’t approach this game any differently from how we would any other game, we still approach it to play good cricket, try and execute our skills and hopefully the result will fall our way. But from an experience perspective, I’m excited about it, the fact that, irrespective of the results, we get our Under 19 boys to understand what it’s like to play an India-Pakistan game. At this level, all it is about is about experiences,” Dravid told icc-cricket.com ahead of the showdown at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.
“We talk about this level and Under 19 cricket being about learning and experiences and experiencing different things, whether it’s conditions, whether it’s playing in an ICC tournament.
“It’s great that we’ve been able to, in a way, set up to have an India-Pakistan game as well. There is a different buzz about it in the sense that we know that the game is followed probably a little bit more closely than some of the other games we have.
"For the last couple of years, we haven’t played Pakistan at this level, so it’s really nice for our boys to have that experience of actually playing against Pakistan.”
Shedding light on what he himself went through in his cricketing days ahead of games against Pakistan, Dravid said: “Every game was important, but it’s just that you knew it was one of the most followed games in the world.
"For people it meant a lot more. As players, it doesn’t really change things, it doesn’t change how you practice and prepare. From my perspective, I really enjoyed playing Pakistan, they had a really good team in my time and had some great cricketers.
"It was always a privilege to play against them. We got on quite well with a lot of the Pakistani boys. It was always great to play them, we won sometimes, we lost sometimes, but we always came away with great experiences.”
India's Under-19s are in complete control in the ongoing tournament, having convincingly beaten Australia, Papua New Guinea, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh on their way into the last 4. However, the challenge they face this time in Pakistan is definitely of a much superior level. Dravid is completely aware of what his charges are up against.
“They bowled very well in this tournament, there strength is their bowling and they’ve shown that. We’ve batted well in this tournament so it’s going to be a good contest and we’re looking forward to it, looking forward to competing against a good bowling attack.
"I thought the Bangladeshi attack was really disciplined, Australia had a couple of decent quicks, so we’ve played some good bowlers in this tournament. But we do recognise that this Pakistani bowling attack is a good one, we respect that, and hopefully we’ll be well prepared and we’ll execute our skills well tomorrow,” he said.
The match starts 3 am IST and the winner of the match will go on to play Australia in the final on February 3 at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui.