August 27, 2012

Indian cricket

Unmukt destined to make a mark

Kanishkaa Balachandran

India's Under-19 World Cup winning captain Unmukt Chand was just another teenager smashing window panes in colony cricket matches. He was also a determined, studious and religious young lad, and his coaches only see him getting better, writes Vijay Lokapally in the Hindu.

Medha Apartments in east Delhi’s Mayur Vihar is no more a non-descript residential complex. Overnight it has become a celebrity corner even as its most famous tenant grabs the attention of the cricket world with a fabulous feat for a teenager

During the New Zealand Test, Dr RN Baba, the media-in-charge, glanced at the TV every few minutes to check on his son, Baba Aparajith, one of the stars of the World Cup. Read on in the Indian Express.

Baba’s schedule had been frenetic over the past week, waking up at 4.30 on match-day mornings, watch his son in action and then get things in order as media in-charge at Uppal. He’s not been the only Baba following Aparajith’s performances keenly. Another day, Baba Indrajith — older than Aparajith by 40 minutes — would have been there alongside his twin brother in Australia.

In the same paper, Shalini Gupta writes on the rise of Sandeep Sharma, one India's best bowlers in the tournament.

Not many know that Sandeep, when 13, started out as a batsman for his school, Multi-Purpose School in Patiala. During a net practice session coach Bali saw his bowling talent and persuaded him to take to quick bowling.

Mohammad Kaif, who captained India to victory in the U-19 World Cup in 2000, writes in Hindustan Times that players should realise that senior cricket is a different ball game, and that their journey has only just begun.

It's true that in cricket at 19 one can plan for a career for the next 10-15 years. But for that, one needs to be extraordinary as far as performance is concerned. In the past, there were many in the Under-19 sides who could not make it to the senior side as their performances went down

The festivities were in full swing at the players' homes. In DNA, Taus Rizvi was at Harmeet Singh's colony in Mumbai.

The Evershine Nagar in the innards of Malad (West) is not quite a happening place. Sunday was an exception. Media professionals had parked themselves there as early as six in the morning. As India knocked off the winning runs against the Aussies, fire crackers rent the air. Politicians, decked in squeaky-clean white kurtas, made an appearance too. From afar, you could have easily mistaken the setting as a political rally or a wedding.

In the same paper, Vijay Tagore writes that the BCCI, often criticised for its misplaced priorities, should take credit for moulding the Under-19 team over the last 12 months.

The players were made to spend months at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore and they were extended the best of facilities, including the expertise of a fielding coach and mental trainer.So when they reached Australia for the U-19 World Cup, they were prepared the best possible way. The board did its bit by de-politicising the system, leaving cricket to experts and selectors

The Indian Express notes that the India Under-19 side has developed a mental toughness, seen in its ability to overcome difficult situations in this World Cup, and resulting in India's first World Cup victory away from Asia.

The coming-of-age show acknowledges the winds of change in Indian cricket. BCCI-organised study tours abroad and frequent competitive games against tough rivals at home mean the juniors aren’t overwhelmed overseas. Chand & Co didn’t let their shoulders droop when they were all out for 166 in the first game or when it was 97/4 in the final. Teams of the past have flinched, but not this feisty bunch.

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Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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