Instead he played just that one series against New Zealand as an Under-19 cricketer. ``These days, youngsters have so
many opportunities at the Under-15 and Under-19 level. There's the Asia Cup, World Cup and also reciprocal tours.
We had nothing of this sort. The only international Under-19 cricket I played was when I was virtually a few months short of my 19th birthday,'' he said.
That India Under-19 team had a number of promising youngsters. Tamil Nadu's S Sharath, for one, scored tons of runs in
all levels of the game, yet was never given a chance to represent India at the highest level. He simply could not get past
his own state selectors. Then there was Tanveer Jabbar, another fine player; Akash Malhotra, Amit Pathak, Gautam Vadera,
Abhijit Kale, Gautam Dutta, Suresh Kumar, et al. Yet from that India Under-19 squad only Rahul went on to play Test cricket.
``I think if there had been more Under-19 tours a few from that crop would have played Tests,'' offered Rahul.
``Many of them were good but lacked opportunities to further develop their skills.''
Rahul's stint with India A was just as satisfying for him. He played a lot more cricket at this level, with the toughest
one being against England A in India. England had a very good mix of players who had already made it to the international level
and some extremely promising ones. All had played first class cricket and were therefore quite seasoned compared to the India A players.
Leading the pack of experienced players was Mark Ramprakash, skipper Allan Wells and Ian Salibury. They also had a number of fine
players in Michael Vaughan, Nick Knight, Damien Cork and Richard Stemp. Besides, Min Patel who was to grow close to Rahul when the
latter spent a season with Kent, was also a member of the team.