Australia v India, Under-19 World Cup, final, Townsville August 26, 2012

Unmukt Chand savours 'great journey'


India's captain Unmukt Chand has said winning the World Cup in Townsville was a fitting end for an Under-19 side that began its journey over a year ago and has enjoyed so much success along the way. The World Cup was the fourth tournament Chand's team has won, after two quadrangular titles and a shared Asia Cup trophy.

"It has been a great journey and a great finish I can say," Chand said after scoring an unbeaten century in India's chase of 226. "We don't know when we will play again [as a team], probably we won't play again together, so that's a bit of an emotional thing as well. Really happy that we could pull it off and finish it on a high."

India's World Cup campaign was not entirely smooth: they lost the first game against West Indies and it wasn't until the semi-final that their batting began to show collective promise. "That's the good part," Chand said of the challenges India had overcome. "Initially we have had a few jitters but we carried on really well and that's what matters the most. We peaked at the right times and that's a quality of good teams."

In the final, the bowlers, after reducing Australia to 38 for 4, had a rare off day and India's batsmen needed to achieve the highest successful chase of the tournament at Tony Ireland Stadium to win the World Cup. Chand, however, praised his bowlers for keeping Australia to a total as low as 225 for 8.

"It happens at times. Our bowlers have done really well in all the previous matches and I guess they bowled really well today as well," Chand said. "You can't expect a bowling side to restrict the opposition to 150 all the time. 225, we have restricted them to a very low target I feel."

India's chase got off to a poor start, when Prashant Chopra was caught down the leg side in the second over. That changed quickly, though, when Baba Aparajith joined Chand and gave a masterclass in driving on the off side. They added 73 in quick time and gave India a buffer in case they lost quick wickets, which they did.

"It's only a matter of one partnership. One good partnership on this wicket, it was a dream wicket to bat on," Chand said. "We knew that we would pull it off if we had one good partnership and that's what I was telling the other batsmen with me. To back yourself, believe yourself and keep communicating."

India went from 75 for 1 to 97 for 4, though, but Chand found another steady partner in Smit Patel, who had scored a fighting half-century in difficult conditions against West Indies in the opening group game. Both were dropped, when Chand was on 38 and Smit on 2. India needed 91 off 90 balls when the batting Powerplay had to be taken but Chand and Smit did not change their approach much, scoring only 18 off the first four overs during the restrictions.

"We don't know when we will play again [as a team], probably we won't play again together, so that's a bit of an emotional thing as well. Really happy that we could pull it off and finish it on a high."
Unmukt Chand

"What I was thinking inside, and I had heard Dhoni speak of this before, that in the 38th over I won't take a risk because the bowler is not under as much pressure as he is in the 46th or the 47th over. I was just thinking that I should take it to the last moment, because you know six, seven or eight runs, you can get anytime in an over. The important thing was to save wickets. If you have wickets in hand, even eight or nine [per over] on this track was not a difficult task."

As it so happened, Chand carted Ashton Turner's off-spin over the midwicket boundary in the last over of batting Powerplay, the 40th. After three more overs of accumulation, India needed 49 off 42 when Chand chipped Alex Gregory to midwicket, where William Bosisto dropped the chance. Chand hit a six down the ground two balls later.

"I was not thinking anything at the time," he said about the drop and the following six. "I was just thinking to get to 226. I was talking to Smit, I didn't look at the score ... I didn't know I had scored a century until the crowd shouted and that's when I took out my bat and all. I was in ... what do people call it? The zone? I was trying to stop Smit from hitting unnecessary shots, I was going and speaking to him and telling him to play within his limits."

The boundaries came quickly after that as India made a dash for the target, Smit achieving it with a pull to the midwicket boundary in the 48th over. India's coach Bharat Arun said their success was in part due to the manner in which his team approached the final. The Indians had appeared remarkably relaxed on the field in the lead-up to the toss. Arun, Chand and Kamal Passi were in conversation while sitting on the grass, and a few of the others were having low intensity warm-ups and drills.

"We felt we needed to be absolutely relaxed. We've been insisting right from the beginning," Arun said. "You cannot ask the boys to relax and then be intense with these guys, so you'll have to be cool. Unless they are relaxed they won't focus on the process, if they are pressurised the process goes kaput.

"We said today's game was just another game for us. There was a big tag attached to it, added pressure, I guess we played by what we decided we would."

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Munaf on August 27, 2012, 18:08 GMT

    This seems to be the ODI/T20 team of future. Of course there is always possibility that some new star will pop up suddenly in future .But as of now the team to be donning Indian ODI colors by Jan 2014 looks like

    Gambhir Rahane Kohli Chand Raina Yuvi ( if fit and back in form) Dhoni Irfan Spinner(Harmeet if nurtured properly) Mediumpacer1 Mediumpacer2

    I think Rohit,Chand, Tiwary,Rahane , Baba will be rotating in team on basis of their forms. But a team which has above will definetly be a good ODI/T20 outfit. In tests Pujara is in with Raina and Yuvi mostly out of team with an extra bowler in.

  • Rashesh on August 27, 2012, 17:49 GMT

    Funny reading about Chand giving advice to Smit on playing within his limits and not hitting unnecessary shots. Chand played quite a few rash hit and miss shots early on and was lucky to survive those initial overs. It was Aparjit who got things going for Indian with those silken shots and gave Chand time to settle down. I didn't see later half of the Chand's inning, so writing this based on what I saw early in his inning.

  • Dummy4 on August 27, 2012, 15:16 GMT

    "GOD" should is well past his time. I, as a fan of his, would not like him to retire with a bunch of bad knocks behind him. It would be a sad ending to such a great career.

  • Naresh on August 27, 2012, 15:02 GMT

    When Chand, the team and coaching staff arrive in INDIA, there will be a warm welcome awaiting them. Not to mention a roofless bus for them to be met by fans on the streets. A great achievement indeed. If India looks at a new team for the future ODI we can :- say CHAND, KHOLI, YUVI, GAMBHIR, RAINA, ROHIT will definetly be there. This will be the core. Others will be added.

  • Munaf on August 27, 2012, 13:12 GMT

    @Alexk400 : Baba seems to me purely test match stuff and should be taken care of accordingly. He seems in Dravis mould but with added advantage of bowling 10 odd overs in a day if/when needed . His batting looks like the wall - solid compact and ability to score big when set.

    Harmeet looks a 10 times better bowler than Bhaji already. If nurtured correctly he can be Indian test/ODI/T20 spinner for atleast next 5 years based on fact that Bhaji could survive 10 years in Indian team with his non spinning flat darts.

    Last but not least..Chand looks like Kohli clone in terms of talent and one just hopes he follows work ethics of Virat and surely success akin to Kohli will follow.

  • Dummy4 on August 27, 2012, 12:13 GMT

    It would be advisable for the BCCI to heed Ian Chappel's suggestion that Chand graduate to the next level of cricket...immediately

  • Dummy4 on August 27, 2012, 11:12 GMT

    Unmukth chand as grt talent like virat,,,,

  • Suhas on August 27, 2012, 10:21 GMT

    @gdbduy -- Buddy please think before you comment, 'GOD' Knows when to hang up his boots, we are nobody to tell him what he needs to do. Moreover, he has limited himself to play in one day's now, he choses which one to play. We will now start seeing less in one day now. Just a suggestion, treat him with respect, and enjoy till he is playing... will just say try t understand him as a cricket fan.... 'GOD' bless you...he did to me

  • Prashanth on August 27, 2012, 5:54 GMT

    Hope these guys, esp. Unmukt, get right breaks. Hope the 'GOD' is listening and ready to make way for youngsters, and not wait to be kicked out like some seniors in the past.

  • Naresh on August 27, 2012, 0:00 GMT

    Good to see Chand using Dhoni thoughts about chasing a target. Dhoni and Raina have perfected this ODI chasing. I see a lot of the sports commentators already gauging players for the next world cup in OZ. Seems India's process has already started. A lot of these U19 might be there. At the same time a guy like Rohit Sharma could be the star of that WC but he really needs to put in "GYM" time work ethic in.

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