One of the greatest batsmen to ever play cricket is back in Mount Maunganui this week as coach of the India A team and is effusive about the facilities his team will have to train and play on at Bay Oval.

"Having been here with the Under 19 team for the World Cup just a few months ago, we were really impressed with the facilities that were on offer," Rahul Dravid told the Bay of Plenty Times this week.

The 45-year-old, who was inducted in to the ICC Hall of Fame in July this year, played 164 test matches and 344 One Day Internationals between 1996 and 2012. Only three players in history have scored more than his 13,288 runs in test cricket.

Dravid's Under 19 team won the World Cup at Bay Oval in January. His captain in that tournament, Prithvi Shaw, is here again this week too before joining the Indian test team in Adelaide.


"We made a request to play at least one of our matches here. It's a beautiful part of the world, it's a lovely city, the practice facilities are nice. They're just off the main square so you get some practice even during the matches," says Dravid.

India A will play New Zealand A in a four-day match starting on Friday and after further fixtures in Hamilton and Whangarei, will return to Bay Oval for 50-over one-day matches against New Zealand A on December 7, 9 and 11.

Included in Dravid's squad are some of India's more prominent top order batsmen who are vying for a place in the team for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy test match against Australia in Adelaide starting on December 6.

For experienced opening batsman Murali Vijay, the match at Bay Oval is important for his immediate international prospects.

Vijay hasn't played for India since making a pair in the second test against England in August but will join the 18-man test squad in Adelaide after the match at Mount Maunganui.

"He's an experienced player," says Dravid.

"He's done well for India in Australia in the past, so if he gets runs this week here, he's certainly putting his hand up for selection in the test if he can make these innings here count."

A late change to the India A squad means the in-form batsman Rohit Sharma won't be playing here this weekend after all.

Sharma made three centuries in eight white ball matches against the West Indies but as the T20 series finished only last Sunday, it's now been decided he'll travel directly to Australia and join India's test match squad there.

Dravid is staying clear of where Sharma stands in the eyes of those who pick the test team.

While Sharma has been in outstanding recent form in white ball formats, he hasn't played a test in nearly a year.

"I'm not a selector, nor am I part of the Indian team management," laughs Dravid.

"But there is quality and there is class and Rohit has that in abundance."

Dravid says there are two purposes for the India A tour to the Northern Districts area.

"We have five or six players like Vijay and the captain [Ajinkya] Rahane and also young Prithvi Shaw, who we want to have some really good competitive match practice, as well as practice in the nets, to help them build up to the tour of Australia.

"For the rest of the boys, it's a really good opportunity in terms of the experience. For us coming in from the sub continent, playing on these sorts of wickets is always a challenge. We need to do more of it, we need to get our skills up."