Since his return from a victorious Under-19 World Cup campaign in Australia, Unmukt Chand has been busy. He toured New Zealand with India A, toured South Africa with Delhi Daredevils, played a tour game against an England XI, played the BCCI's Corporate Trophy for ONGC, and represented Delhi in the domestic season. He's had to deal with a lot more attention and has appeared in his first TV commercial. Amid all this, Chand hasn't lost the knack of scoring a hundred in a tournament final.
After making hundreds in several Under-19 tournament finals, a run that culminated in a World Cup-winning century against Australia in Townsville, Chand did it again, for Delhi in the Vijay Hazare final in Visakhapatman. His 116 off 133 balls led Delhi to 290 for 9, 75 runs too many for Assam.
All the knockout matches of the tournament were played in two venues in Visakhapatnam and most of the totals were low. In the quarter-finals and the semis, teams had passed 200 only in two innings. But Chand said the pitch for the final was better than previous ones.
"We would have definitely elected to bowl if we had won the toss," Chand said. "But the conditions were slightly different, it was not a sort of a weird track, not a treacherous track you can say, like we had in the previous games. The ball was coming a bit slow but I think it was a good batting wicket …"
The century was Chand's first in List A cricket since his debut in 2010, coming in his 23rd innings and it lifted his average to 32.60. "I hope to continue scoring hundreds and more importantly winning matches for my team," he said. "I haven't scored hundreds but I have been doing this [scoring runs] in the league matches as well. I realise I have the ability and just need to play my own game."
Chand's Vijay Hazare hundred came after a poor Ranji Trophy season. Much was expected of him following his Under-19 success but he averaged 37, making 445 runs with one century in eight matches. He was Delhi's third highest run-scorer but eighth on the list of their top averages. Having placed a premium on the Ranji Trophy, calling it a "cherished" tournament, Chand said it had been a learning experience.
"All I can say is, I would have definitely wanted to score more runs in the Ranji. Though it happens you know, things don't always go according to plan," he said. "I learned a lot in this Ranji season. Failure teaches you a lot. Really happy that I was able to face such rough things as well, when I was not able to score. I hope to learn from the mistakes I made, become a better player."
Chand said he had learned to be more patient through the Ranji season and the one-day matches had taught him new aspects of temperament that needed looking after. His next challenge is the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, India's domestic T20 tournament. And after that it's the IPL, when the world will be watching.