India U-19 coach Rahul Dravid on Monday (February 5) said he was impressed with the "level of maturity" his boys displayed despite quite a few distractions during their successful World Cup campaign in New Zealand.
The Prithvi Shaw-led victorious U-19 team was greeted with a hero's welcome on its arrival at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai on Monday.
Dravid conceded he was a "bit stressed" during the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction, which was held in Bengaluru days ahead of the team's January 30 semi-final match against Pakistan.
Quite a few of his wards, including captain Shaw, went under the hammer at the two-day event (January 27 and 28) in Bengaluru. It was revealed that the boys had followed the auction via live streams from their team hotel and some of them were extremely nervous when their names went up for bidding.
Nonetheless, the Indian team showed no signs of nervousness when it came to facing their arch-rivals in the semi-final. Shubman Gill hit a ton as Dravid's boys crushed their Pakistani counterparts by a mammoth 203-run margin in Christchurch.
"That week during the IPL auction was a bit stressful but credit to the boys, once that was done they came back to practice and switched on. Only those three days I was a bit worried," Dravid told the media on Monday.
"We had some loose curfews. Sometimes the boys followed it," he added.
"That's fine, they are teenagers. I have been a teenager too. What impressed me was the level of maturity they showed in the age of social media, most of which I am not even aware of."
Did India win U-19 World Cup final against Australia in 2012: Dravid wonders
Dravid also stressed on the need for the U-19 World Cup heroes to stay grounded and continue performing well at the domestic level as he feels it is "not easy to get into the Indian side".
The former India captain said he even wondered if the Unmukt Chand-led India U-19 team actually won the 2012 World Cup against Australia as only one from the victorious team — pacer Sandeep Sharma — went on to play for India while quite a few Australian boys made the successful transition from junior to senior cricket.
"The challenge and the hard work really start from here. We had a couple of conversation on this. When we were there, they showed a rerun of the 2012 finals and I later started checking upon a few things. It is interesting; the result of the final is India beat Australia but six years down the line only one of those boys has played for India while five-six of them went on to play for Australia. Six years down the line, the debatable point is who won that final," Dravid said.
He added: "Talent and ability are there, it's about managing themselves, how to deal with pressure and the expectations that will come as U-19 champions.
"The hard work begins for them begins for us too. It's not easy to get into the Indian side. At least if they become good first-class cricketers, from then on it becomes a stepping stone to play for India."