Kolkata: A bagful of runs to show for in first-class cricket, opener Abhimanyu Easwaran is ready to move to the next level but is not losing sleep over an India call-up ahead of the South Africa home Test series starting next month.
Easwaran helped India Red win the Duleep Trophy by an innings and 38 runs in Bengaluru last week as he cracked a copybook 153 from 300 balls in the first innings to lay the foundation for the massive triumph.
Easwaran, who turned 24 a few days ago and was also appointed the captain of the Bengal team for all three formats, is a India ''A'' regular and has been in good form for quite some time.
The Dehradun-born city boy had a blockbuster season in the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy, amassing 861 runs, the fourth highest from the Elite Group teams, with an average of 95.66 and studded with three centuries.
And with K.L. Rahul struggling to get runs, Easwaran is considered as the ''dark-horse'' to break into the squad.
"I am not thinking about selection. I am not thinking about things I can''t control. I am only thinking about the South Africa ''A'' series coming up from September 17. I have to prepare well for that," Easwaran told on Thursday.
Asked whether he feels he is ready for the grind of international cricket, Easwaran said: "Yes I am."
Besides Shubman Gill, who is leading the India ''A'' side in the first unofficial Test against South Africa ''A'' in Thiruvananthapuram, the focus will also be on openers Easwaran and Priyank Panchal who will feature only in the second match, to be played in Mysuru from September 17.
"It will be a good challenge for me against quality South African bowlers. If you do well, your confidence always grows," Easwaran said on his upcoming assignment.
The recent West Indies tour where he played against their ''A'' side, was a learning curve for Easwaran, although he did not get many runs.
"I learnt a lot from that tour. Playing with the Dukes ball in those conditions. I played for the first time under lights with the red ball. That was also a challenge. It''s difficult as an opener to play with the new ball under lights. I had to adjust to the wickets there."
Most of Easwaran''s time at India ''A'' was spent under the tutelage of Rahul Dravid although the legendary former India captain stepped down from that role due to his National Cricket Academy commitments.
"Rahul sir has been an idol since I started playing cricket. He is an inspiration. Sharing the dressing room with him has been a dream come true. I learnt quite a bit from him. he has been very open to us," Easwaran said.
On the added pressure of leading Bengal, he said: "I think it''s an honour for me to lead Bengal. If I can bat the way I have been batting, it will be really helpful for my team. The management has shown faith in me. When it comes to team selection and decision making, I have a little added responsibility. But I would like to enjoy it and take it as a challenge."
Although he has never had the chance to speak to Indian captain Virat Kohli, Easwaran -- who made his first class debut in 2013, concluded by saying he loves the way Kohli approaches the game.
"I really enjoy the way Virat Kohli plays his cricket and the passion he has for the game. I love watching him bat."