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

After the bout, the bonding

Trophy won, India's captain unwinds with Australian opponents over a game of pool

The Indian players were dancing on the pavement outside the Jewel of India restaurant on Flinders Street. They had been world champions for four hours and were celebrating deservedly, with their team management and fans, who'd created a homely atmosphere so far away from home, and just regular punters who wandered over to see what the party was about. There was Bollywood music in the air and at some point other people showed up with a dhol and began to beat out tunes. Most of the players looked absolutely knackered but found plenty of energy to break out into some smooth moves. They were enjoying the greatest night of their young lives and their celebration was inclusive of anyone who wanted in.

They were well into their merry-making when some of the Australian players were walking to another restaurant on the other side of the street. Townsville shuts so early on Sundays that these two establishments were among the few that were open. The Indians spotted the Australians and shouted in their direction, asking them to come over too. They did not, and understandably so. They had just lost the World Cup final and, as good sports as they are, they could be forgiven for not wanting to be in the thick of an Indian celebration.

It did not take long for India's captain Unmukt Chand to leave his party, cross Flinders Street, and go over to where the Australians were. Some of the Aussies were shooting pool by the tables near the entrance, and Unmukt, after greeting most of them, began a conversation and a game of pool with Kurtis Patterson and Gurinder Sandhu at the tables further inside the restaurant.

Shortly afterwards, the tables near the front were empty as most of the Australians went over to those at the back, mixing with Unmukt. There have been several memorable sights on and off the field during this U-19 World Cup but nothing surpassed the Australian captain William Bosisto and Unmukt having a conversation and playing some pool on the side after such a hard-fought final. These boys were getting started on the good habits early. Unmukt spent more than half an hour with the Australians, before heading back to his team's celebrations.

Not too long ago, Bosisto and Unmukt had been sat next to each other at the press conference after the World Cup final. They were exhausted. Bosisto had been on the field for 88 overs in the most high-pressure match of his life; Unmukt likewise for 97.4. In warm and humid conditions, and without the cool breeze that had been present at previous matches at Tony Ireland Stadium, they had played giant innings. Bosisto rescuing his team, like he has done so often in this World Cup, from the depths of 38 for 4 through sheer hard work; Unmukt choosing the greatest stage to put into practice all that he had talked about through the tournament, and playing one of the great U-19 innings. Bosisto was shattered at having lost, and at having dropped Unmukt when India needed 49 off 41 balls - his only blemish in the whole tournament. Unmukt was savouring his greatest triumph to date, but was emotionally drained too.

And yet there was grace then as well. "India are a great side, I think they played better than us on the day and they deserved it," Bosisto said, while answering a dissection of an excruciating defeat. "Getting an early wicket, we thought that put us right in the contest. Unmukt's innings was just a freak innings and sometimes you are going to get that in cricket against such talented opposition."

Unmukt spoke with empathy, and patted his counterpart on the back, when he said: "I would like to wish them [Australia] luck and feel really sorry for him because he played a great knock but just couldn't pull it off at the last moment. Bosisto played a very mature innings and he got them a good target."

"Unmukt's innings was just a freak innings and sometimes you are going to get that in cricket against such talented opposition"
William Bosisto

They had come into the function room in the grandstand of Tony Ireland Stadium for the press conference shortly after the presentation ceremony, where Unmukt had won the Player-of-the-Match award for his unbeaten 111 that delivered India their third U-19 title. Bosisto, who scored 87, remained not out in five out of six innings, and ended the World Cup with an average of 276, had been named Player of the Tournament.

"I knew a big score was required. Today was the day I said to myself that I need to stay there, I need to be there, and if I am there we can get to the target," Unmukt said. "I'm really happy I was able to achieve it."

Bosisto was asked if his award was any consolation in defeat. "Not at all," he said. "I'm pretty devastated."

Their lead-ups to the final had been different. While Unmukt had not made the scores he had been expected to in the group stages and the knockouts, Bosisto had steered his team through tough chases repeatedly. India needed a powerful performance from Unmukt to challenge Australia and he proved his big-match temperament once again, having scored hundreds in the finals of the Asia Cup and a quadrangular series in Townsville earlier this year. Australia needed their captain to drag them out of trouble once again and he responded unfailingly with 87, his best innings of the tournament.

Two days ahead of the final, when asked what kind of a captain he was, Bosisto said he was still discovering that. He said he would love to be able to lead by example. He has certainly done that, leading Australia with distinction, proving he has the coolest of heads in a crisis - be it a batting collapse or a controversial incident. He could not speak highly enough of his team-mates and said he felt privileged to be in the company of such talent.

Unmukt spoke in a similar tone. Though he's undoubtedly the batting star of this India U-19 side, Unmukt heaped praise on everyone else, including the team management. "Our team has been really good throughout the tournament. It's not been a one-man show or a two-man show," he said. "Everyone has chipped in with batting and bowling, the fielding has been amazing. That's what has taken us so far." His list of people to thank at the presentation ceremony was extremely long.

They are very different cricketers, Unmukt and Bosisto. One is a dashing stroke-maker who revels on a big occasion, the other a reliable run-scorer who rarely lets his team down. They are both match-winners. They were worthy captains on the U-19's grandest stage and perhaps they'll meet again, when India play Australia, and one will cross the street to greet the other.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Palaniappan on August 28, 2012, 12:49 GMT

    Way to go Chand....Very Impressive article....

  • sridhar on August 28, 2012, 6:45 GMT

    Good behaviour seems more difficult to achieve than good cricket. I am glad that two teams that competed so vigourously on the field, could actually bond so easily. Two captains with contrasting styles. Chand a truly flamboyant batsman finally led his team to a great and well deserved victory. Beating Australia at home is creditable. Particularly when they had swept all before them on their way to the final. Even more creditable was that the teams could behave normally and remind us of the old days when teams could actually have drink after the game, however bitter their fights on the field might have been. Well done India and Australlia and I am sure that some of these players will end up playing for their countries. Ramanujam sridhar

  • Satish on August 28, 2012, 6:27 GMT

    Well.. One simple word comes to mind when i read the article.. Respect and it had increased loads for the guy Chand. Bats like Virat and behaves like Dravid. I think this would be the best combo a guy c an get. Wish he doesn't lose out his quality. Soon he will see much money in IPL and will get to travel around with the senior team with endorsements and parties to attend.. Wish he stays where he is now in mind inspite of the accolades he will get..

  • amit on August 27, 2012, 19:38 GMT

    @stingD , "homely" as an adjective, when referred to a person , means unattractive ( opposite of say flamboyant /dashing). but when referred to places , it means an atmosphere like home.

  • Sting on August 27, 2012, 16:20 GMT

    While I enjoyed the article I find the need to point out that the word "homely" means "unattractive in appearance". I suspect that isn't what Mr. Binoy was going for when he said "... with their team management and fans, who'd created a homely atmosphere so far away from home ...".

  • Dummy4 on August 27, 2012, 13:56 GMT

    Great sense of maturity by young lad..Well composed article.

  • Dummy4 on August 27, 2012, 12:41 GMT

    Great Article and great to see such a behaviour, This is the cricket and sports have to do in one's life. Play against each other in the ground but after that, all must behave as a good human being and good friends. Hope we all learn from this good act.

  • Dummy4 on August 27, 2012, 12:39 GMT

    Yes... Both captains are done Brilliantly.... Hearty Congratz to both the teams.... While seeing this type of team spirits and sportsmanship i feel "Future of world cricket is looking very good and healthy....."

  • Andrew on August 27, 2012, 12:07 GMT

    That was a top article @George Binoy. I really liked the interaction between the players & thought it was a great gesture from Unmukt to play pool. Great stuff!

  • Dummy4 on August 27, 2012, 11:16 GMT

    I am closely following Unmukt, he is having enormous talent and needs to play in senior XI. The surprising think is his intend to take the responsibility at the big occasions. I hope he will surpass the jinks normally the talented youngsters facing and hoping to see him to play for Senior XI.

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