Dravid believes England Lions pushed his team closer than what the scoreline suggests Getty

Rahul Dravid, India A's coach, has preferred not to read too much into his team's recent success against the touring England Lions. He believes even as his team aced the key moments, they were 'challenged' and 'pushed'. The hosts, despite not fielding their best side, registered a 4-1 win in the one-day series.

"Even though the scoreline reads 4-1, there were many situations where we were challenged and pushed against the wall," Dravid said. "But we showed some good fighting spirit.

"They pushed us. There were a lot of close games, one wicket or a small phase of play their way and they would've won it. It was a lot tighter than 4-1, we just won the key moments, so credit to the boys."

He was, however, impressed with the performances of the players who got an opportunity to face the next-in-line from England. "Ajinkya [Rahane] (140 in three games) came here and scored runs," he said. "[Hanuma] Vihari, Shreyas Iyer did quite well. The seamers Deepak [Chahar] and Shardul [Thakur] did well. Navdeep [Saini], Avesh Khan and Axar Patel have been excellent. Both the legspinners [Rahul Chahar and Mayank Markande] showed promise and potential, so there were a lot of performances that the selectors can look at and be happy about.

"It was also a younger squad, so it was an opportunity to bring the younger players for the last few games - you saw the likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Himmat Singh, Siddhesh Lad, Ricky Bhui. They've not been part of our set-up, but we want to slowly bring them in because they've done well in one-day and Ranji games."

However, one disappointment was Lokesh Rahul. The Karnataka opener was recently dropped from India's limited overs squad following a chat show controversy. Instead of being drafted back to the side in New Zealand, he was asked to play for India A in its last three one-dayers. Rahul returned with scores of 13, 42 and 0 from three innings. Even as it has been a prolonged run of poor form for the opener, Dravid believes there is no sweat over his below-par showing.

"I have no doubt that Rahul has quality and ability," he said. "He's playing the four-dayers [against the Lions], and he's proven he can succeed in the international level in all three formats. He's one player who has hundreds in T20Is, Tests and ODIs so I'm not worried about his form."

A few players, who have been regulars in the 'A' set-up were rested as a part of the rotation process and a few who had done well in domestic competitions were tried out. Despite the experimentation, it didn't impact India's result. In order to not dilute the quality of Ranji Trophy knockouts, players involved in those matches were not picked in the India A squads for the one-day series.

The trend wasn't the same during the group stages of the tournament, and even in Vijay Hazare Trophy earlier, as the India A players couldn't feature for their domestic sides due to clashes in the match dates. Dravid said as much as the India A coaching set-up and the national selectors would like to field strong teams for the domestic competitions, at times, it becomes unavoidable and a compromise has to be reached.

"It's not an easy one to avoid. But in this series, we didn't pick anyone still playing the Ranji Trophy quarters, semis and finals... so we've given importance to that," Dravid said. "But it's not easy, we need to balance out the needs of some of the players, we need to develop them and give our players a level and standard higher than domestic cricket. If we don't challenge our players at a slightly higher level than domestic and first-class cricket, then how can we develop them for international cricket?

"We try to not make them clash, but sometimes the clash is inevitable. Like going to New Zealand [in December 2018], it was a very fruitful exercise to play in those conditions... and if the season clashes, then there's no way we can balance it out. So yes, we do try to avoid clashes but inevitably it sometimes will happen."