In a bid to prepare for the all-important Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Australia next month, the BCCI and the Indian team management have decided to send an A team of Test aspirants, led by Rahane, to New Zealand.
The first of the three four-day games in New Zealand will likely serve as a warm-up game for the opening Test Down Under. Under the mentorship of legendary Rahul Dravid, the A side would be looking to adapt their game to the Australian conditions.
Besides Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Murali Vijay, Prithvi Shaw, Parthiv Patel and Hanuma Vihari are part of the A squad for the first unofficial Test, slated to be held in Mount Maunganui from 16 November.
In an exclusive interview with bcci.tv, India A coach Dravid said that playing conditions in Mount Maunganui might not be similar to Australia but it would still provide a valuable match practice to the Test regulars.
"I think it will be a very good opportunity for some of the boys who are requested by the senior team management to be a part of the A tour," Dravid quoted.
"They will be able to gain some match-time experience even if the conditions are not going to be exactly the same or it is not like being in Australia. The A team format is pretty competitive and it is match-time experience. It is a good opportunity in the lead up to international tours," he added.
Dravid also opined that the youngsters in the A squad will benefit from the presence of international stars.
"What we see nowadays is that there is not much time for practice or practice games in the lead up to an international series because of the amount of cricket that is being played.
"From Indian cricket's perspective, by organising these tours, we can give the boys a better chance to prepare for an international series. It is exciting to have the senior boys with us. The objective for us is to prepare them for Australia and at the same time, the younger boys get an opportunity to share the dressing room with them," said the former India captain.
The tour has gained more significance as India just play only one warm-up game before the first Test begins at Adelaide on 6 December.
"It is really nice to be able to hold such tours just before the Indian team visits these countries. We are trying to achieve that with the A team programme. We are trying to have shadow tours. We did it in England and we could obviously not do it in Australia, but it is great to go to New Zealand instead," Dravid asserted.
India A are scheduled to play three unofficial Tests and as many one-dayers in New Zealand. However, Dravid made it clear that the focus will be on red-ball cricket during the team's stay in New Zealand.
"The focus on the New Zealand tour is more about four-day cricket and I think we are playing really good white ball cricket. I have seen this on the A tour over the last two-and-a-half years. We have been really competitive and building a very good bench strength. The IPL really helps in that department,” he said.
"The push from my perspective and some of the thinking and planning that has gone into is that we try and improve our longer format cricket, especially when travelling overseas.
"Keeping that in mind, we have increased the number of Test matches. We are trying to increase the amount of red-ball cricket that our boys can get to experience," Dravid concluded.
(With PTI inputs)