Winning a regular age-group tournament might not make big news, but the comprehensive manner in which the Indian U-23 team beat Pakistan to lift the ACC Emerging Trophy on Sunday speaks volumes about the confidence of the youngsters.
What augurs really well for the future of Indian cricket is the fact that apart from this tournament, India has played in as many as four U-19 events in the last two years, both in India as well as abroad, and managed to win three of them outright. On the fourth occasion, they shared the Asia Cup trophy with Pakistan.
One of the players who have consistently done well at both the U-19 and U-23 levels is all-rounder Baba Aparajith. Even on Sunday, he spun a web around the Pakistan batsmen and picked three wickets from his spell of seven overs.
Speaking to Mail Today from Singapore, Aparajith spoke about the thrill of doing well for the country, but more importantly the need for consistency to make a name at the top level.
“It always feels good when you do well for your country. It was all the more special because my effort with the ball helped us register a comprehensive win against arch rivals Pakistan. But it is important to not rest on past laurels and do well consistently. Only then can one achieve success at the top level,” he said.
Even the best of players often succumb to stress when playing in an India-Pakistan match, but Aparajith says he didn’t take any undue pressure.
“I kept things simple and we as a team enjoyed ourselves, rather than thinking too much about it being the final and the fact that we were playing Pakistan. We looked to treat it like just another game,” the 19-year old said.
Four out of the 11 players in the final were part of the team that won the U-19 World Cup last year, and Aparajith says the harmony within the team was one of the reasons behind the success.
“Even today I was thinking about winning the World Cup. It is one of the best feelings of my cricketing career. As for the success that we have achieved, I believe that it is easier to gel as a team at a younger stage. Also, we have played together for a while now. All that definitely helps when you are playing a team sport,” he said.
“I would say that everyone in this team is keen to give his best on the field. And I am not talking about just the playing XI. Even those who didn’t get a game were always there to contribute in whichever manner they could.”