“I feel you have to keep your mind clear and not underestimate any opposition; perform no matter who you’re playing against,” said Dhawal Kulkarni on the eve of the Indian cricket team’s departure for Zimbabwean shores to play a three-match ODI and T20 series. Most players in the touring party have just finished a hectic T20 season, one that started with the World T20 followed by the Indian Premier League (excruciatingly long from a sports writer’s perspective), and one might be inclined to take the Zimbabwe tour on a light note. For the youngsters in the Indian squad, however, it is an opportunity to carry their domestic successes over to the international front. For those who had dreamt of donning the Indian jersey while participating in tournaments such as the Vijay Hazare Trophy or the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, the upcoming tour could turn out to be just the foundation they needed to build their international career. In a tour that is widely perceived as one that will test the Indian bench strength, the likes of Faiz Fazal, KL Rahul, Karun Nair, etc have the chance to impress the national selectors. A few good performances in Zimbabwe could mean getting picked for bigger battles ahead, even if the opposition have barely managed to keep themselves afloat in recent times. Having hammered two centuries from five Test appearances in a relatively brief international career so far, Rahul has the opportunity to make his mark in the shorter formats. A consistent run in the IPL, in which he hammered 397 runs at 44.11, will only help him in his momentum for the tour. During a press interaction ahead of the team’s scheduled departure for Harare, Rahul credited this improvement in batting to ideas and advice he received from batting superstars and RCB teammates Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. “I spent time with Virat and AB and asked them questions about what they thought I should do to improve my cricket and be successful in the shortest format. Their ideas and feedback did help me in improving my batting,” he said. Let us not forget that Rahul may also jump in the battle for the wicketkeeper’s slot after Dhoni’s retirement from the international scene. Having given hints that he is looking to improve the art under the tutelage of the master himself, the Karnataka lad may have started off in his preparation for that role.