Scores | Action in images | Report | Chand's dream come true
Meet the Indian team | Smit was confident
TOWNSVILLE: Unmukt Chand represents the future of Indian cricket. Confident, articulate, well-travelled and secure in the knowledge of recent history and the backing of a rich Board, the Delhi lad proved on Sunday that dreams do come true, even the most wishful ones.
Unmukt plundered a perfectly-paced century, his fifth in International age-category cricket, in the final to gain India their third U-19 World Cup crown, as the visitors chased down Australia’s 225 with 14 balls to spare. The win places Unmukt with the likes of Mohammad Kaif (2000) and Virat Kohli (2008), who also led Indian colts to the premier junior trophy.
“I don’t know what’s happening right now. We have won the World Cup and I’m still in the mood. I am really thankful to God that I could perform today and take my team through. In the last tournament also I scored a hundred in the final. They (Australia) had bad luck today, they played well, put up a good score, but we were able to chase it down,” said the winning skipper.
On his motley bunch that took home the biggest prize by beating a strong Aussie team in their own backyard, Unmukt said, “We started two years back. We were from 15 different states and it took us some time to gel together. We had a lot of camps together. It’s been a great journey. It started in Vishakhapatnam, and since then we have won four tournaments.”
A little earlier, wicket-keeper batsman Smit Patel, who partnered Unmukt in a match-winning 130-run stand, had swung a boundary over mid-wicket to trigger unprecedented celebrations in the Indian camp, as a frenzied army in blue swarmed into the field of play.
Unmukt, who opens the batting, appeared to have run into a roadblock in the chase when India lost three quick wickets for just 22 runs, with 129 more needed in a shade over 25 overs. But he tided over the crisis with Smit, and once the target was in hitting distance, closed things out with a barrage of huge sixes.
Expected to do well Down Under, the captain had a good tournament with the bat. He scored 246 runs at average of 49.20 in six matches, with a century and fifty. His outstanding skill in what was generally not considered a batting-friendly tournament compelled Ian Chappell to comment that Unmukt is a “very talented batsman and should also be consistently plying his trade at a higher level”.
In the final, the 19-year-old reached his 50 in 66 balls and was crucially dropped by Aussie skipper William Bosisto when he was on 84. He brought up his hundred in 126 balls with a massive six over cover and then switched gears as runs came in torrents.
As Unmukt was draped with an Indian flag following the victory, his partner in the chase, Smit, took some time to reveal just how influential the captain’s presence was in the middle. “I was a little tentative in the beginning, but Unmukt appreciated me and gave me confidence…I got going after that. Our coach always advised us to stick to the basics whenever we are in a pressure situation,” he said.
Complimenting Unmukt on his fearless hitting, Smit said, “He is just a fluent batsman, he goes after the bowler whenever he wants. It was awesome batting with him. We were pretty confident when we were batting together that we will get the target."