Irfan Pathan further added that the captain and the selectors would have the greatest responsibility to ensure that the youngsters in the Indian cricket team reach their fullest potential.
Irfan Pathan and Graeme Swann shared their views about the talented youngsters in the Indian cricket team in the latest edition of the Star Sports show 'Cricket Connected'.
On being asked if Virat Kohli's focus going forward should be to identify players for the future, Irfan Pathan replied in the affirmative while mentioning that the Indian cricket team captain is known to back his players, much like Sourav Ganguly.
"Absolutely, there are no two ways about it. Virat Kolhi's captaincy is similar to Sourav Ganguly. He gives a solid backing to his players," Irfan Pathan said.
Irfan Pathan cited the example of a press conference where Virat Kohli had come out in full support of Rishabh Pant after there were some adverse comments in the media about the latter.
"I remember a moment when someone spoke negatively about Rishabh Pant in the press conference, but there Virat backed him openly and said that he was supporting Rishabh Pant. He wanted every Indian and the press also to support him. Because the Indian cricket team recognised Rishabh Pant's talent. Virat Kohli has the aura about him that he goes out of his way to back the youngsters," Irfan Pathan added.
Irfan Pathan added that Virat Kohli had also named the players whom he wanted to back in the press conferences and that the Indian cricket team captain would leave behind at least 5-6 players who would serve the team for a long time to come.
"He has also taken names of players whom he wants to back in the press conferences. I feel there in no doubt that the way Dada built a team, Virat Kohli will also prepare 5-6 players who will become Indian cricket's superstars," the former left-arm pacer added.
Irfan Pathan on the challenges in front of the Indian cricket team youngsters
Irfan Pathan mentioned that the onus would be on Virat Kohli and the selectors to ensure that the potential shown by the talented youngsters is not wasted.
"Selectors and captain would have the maximum reponsibilty. I remember Yuvraj Singh had an average of only 19 or 20 in the first few matches when had come initially in the team," Irfan Pathan opined.
Irfan Pathan gave the example of Yuvraj Singh, who got the unwavering support of Sourav Ganguly because of the potential he possessed, despite the lean run the dashing left-hander had in the initial stages of his Indian cricket team career.
"But Sourav Ganguly used to continuously back him purely based on his talent even though he was not performing that much. Only in the second match he played, the first time he batted, he scored 70-odd against Australia. Other than that, if you see he did not score a fifty for a long time. But Sourav Ganguly used to go to the selection meeting and say that he wanted the youngster, he wanted to back him and get him ready," Irfan Pathan quipped.
Irfan Pathan added that Virat Kohli would also have to follow a similar approach and back the youngsters to the hilt.
Other than the captain and the selectors, Irfan Pathan pointed out that the youngsters would also have to work on the technical and mental aspects of their game as there is a huge difference between under-19 and international cricket.
"In between there is a bridge, which is first class cricket. You need to make sure that you have the mentality to reach the bigger level and at the same time making your game bigger. I think that's the biggest challenge any cricketer faces who has played under-19 cricket. You need to make sure that you strive to become better as a cricketer," the left-arm seamer said.
"You cannot have the same competition level that you had at under-19 level to the first class level and the same level at the international level. You need to keep changing your cricketing ability and at the same time your mentality as well," Pathan added.
Graeme Swann picked Rishabh Pant as his favourite young cricketer in the Indian cricket team, concurring with Irfan Pathan that the backing of the team management plays a huge role in the growth of a player.
"I absolutely adore the way Rishabh Pant plays his cricket. Irfan Pathan is so right, because he has someone backing him. I remember in the Test series when he came to England and the first or second ball at Trent Bridge he hit the spinner back over his head for a six," Graeme Swann recalled.
"I thought this guy will be something special in Test cricket because he is a youngster, he backs his game and he has got the team around him to back him," the former English off-spinner opined.
Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill and Navdeep Saini are some of the young Indian cricket team members to watch out for in the future. While Shreyas Iyer has almost sealed his spot in the Indian ODI lineup, the others are yet to become regular fixtures in the team.Published 20 Jul 2020, 17:53 IST