Smit Patel eyeing next level

Calcutta: The name that hit the headlines when India lifted the Under-19 World Cup three months ago in Townsville was that of captain Unmukt Chand, who registered a superlative 111 not out in the final against Australia.

There was another player, though, at the other end, without whose support the mission might not have been accomplished.

Scoring an unbeaten 62, Smit Patel, too, made a mark with an equally significant contribution, coming in to bat when India were reduced to 97 for four in the 25th over.

Stitching an unbroken 130-run partnership for the fifth wicket, Smit signalled that he was in line to be an ideal finisher in the near future.

However, August 26, 2012, is for the moment, history, as far as the 19-year-old is concerned.

"Of course, I do cherish those wonderful memories… I still savour them. But it wouldn't be wise if I think about them every now and then," Smit said after his arrival, here, on Thursday for Gujarat's Ranji Trophy tie against Bengal, beginning Saturday.

"The knock in the World Cup final was certainly a terrific boost. But at present, my job is to take all the positives and keep improving in all departments to get ready for the next level," he added.

Opening the innings, Smit so far has been quite impressive in his maiden Ranji season with brisk half-centuries ' against Madhya Pradesh and Saurashtra ' at a healthy average of 46.67.

"Figures may well say that I have impressed as of now. But I believe that only big scores can get me there ' the big stage… So it's imperative I start converting good knocks into big ones," Smit emphasised.

He has no grievances as such for not being able to stand behind the stumps for Gujarat despite his wicket-keeping skills. Smit prefers to leave the task to his senior pro and captain Parthiv Patel.

"At this stage, I'm not really concerned about wicket-keeping. I just want to focus on scoring more and more runs to establish myself as a batsman.

"Anyhow, I keep on getting useful tips from Parthiv on most aspects of the game… And as of now, they have come in handy," he said.

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