Mohammed Kaif (2000), Virat Kohli (2008), Unmukt Chand (2012)…
Leading from the front, the Delhi-based Chand became the third Indian captain to lift the U-19 World Cup, as they defeated Australia by six wickets, on Sunday. To say that it was a captain’s knock, would be too little a praise for the youngster.
Playing against Australia, that too in their own backyard, is always difficult, no matter which ‘level’ of cricket it is. With his team iffy at 97 for four in a 226-run chase, there was every possible chance that Chand, who opened the innings, got bogged down by the nerves. But instead, he made the Aussies nervous.
Displaying a temperament which made Aussie great Ian Chappell comment that “he is a class above the under-19 level”, Chand made the final his playground with an unbeaten 111-run innings. Seven boundaries and six monster sixes were ample proof of the man’s, or should we say the boy’s, stroke-making abilities.
Giving Man of the Match Chand a helping hand was his ’keeper Smit Patel. He missed his shots initially in his innings, but recovered impressively to stay unbeaten on 62.
Baba Aparajith, too, chipped in with a useful 38-ball 33.
Earlier, led by pacer Sandeep Singh, the Indian bowlers did just enough to keep the Aussie total within their reach. Sandeep claimed four wickets, while Calcutta-based Ravikant Singh and Aparajith took a wicket each.
Australia captain William Bosisto, who was adjudged Man of the Tournament, was top-scorer for the hosts with a well-compiled 87.
Chand, who before the final had a pretty ordinary tournament, received a unique salute from his Australian counterpart Bosisto when he said how the Indian keeps ‘terrorising’ them. That is something which made VVS Laxman a very very special player. Chand, surely, has taken his first step to be in an elite league.
At the post-match presentation ceremony, while Chand thanked God, Bosisto blamed the loss on some poor fielding.
The following are excepts
Chand: We started two years ago… It has been a great journey. Initially, we were 15 people from different states but over the time we have evolved into a single unit. The boys have been very obedient and have helped me a lot in this campaign.
I am thankful to God that I could take my team through. It was due… The Aussies played very well, but we came on top.
The Australians had a bit of bad luck, I can say. They played really well today, put up a very good score but we were able to cover it up. It took a long time for us to get it together. The journey began in Vishakhaptnam last year. We have played four tournaments since and have won all the tournaments.
I would like to thank the support staff without them it would not have been possible. I would also like to thank my team, we had a great time together. It is a very emotional moment, like to thank all the people in India, who prayed for us and to all the Indian fans at the ground .
I still don’t have Dhoni’s number but I hope to get it very soon.
(To the Townsville mayor) Today, we have set no limits for ourselves, so please forgive us for the nuisance.
Bosisto: We are pretty deflated in the Aussie camp but we had great couple of weeks. We appreciate all the support.
We dropped a few chances, few crucial ones actually. It would have nice to hang onto them but that’s the game of cricket. We were on the wrong side of the ledger today.
It was difficult batting out there today. At one stage I felt I was batting in India. But the Indians did a fantastic job with both the ball and the bat and they deserved to win.
Unmukt is a tremendous player. It is not the first time he has terrorised us. Hopefully the next time we meet we can get him out a bit earlier.