Unmukt Chand retires from Indian cricket, will play league cricket in USA

India's 2012 Under-19 World Cup-winning captain signs multi-year deal with Major League Cricket in America

Hemant Brar
Hemant Brar
13-Aug-2021 • Updated on 13-Sep-2021
Unmukt Chand poses for a picture at his residence, New Delhi, August 26, 2019

Unmukt Chand did become a regular for India A and led them to victories against New Zealand A in 2013 and Bangladesh A in 2015  •  Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Unmukt Chand, India's 2012 Under-19 World Cup-winning captain, has left Indian cricket at the age of 28. In a note posted on his Twitter account, Chand said he had decided to "bid adieu to BCCI and seek better opportunities around the world".
*Chand has signed up with the Silicon Valley Strikers for the 2021 season of the Minor League Cricket, a national T20 competition in the United States. He will make his debut in the tournament against the Socal Lashings on Saturday.
Having relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, he has also signed a multi-year deal with Major League Cricket to support the development of the game in the country by playing with and mentoring the next generation of American cricketers.
After his heroics at the Under-19 level - he scored 111 not out in that 2012 final against Australia to win the Player-of-the-Match award - Chand was marked for success at the higher level too, but he couldn't make the grade, never representing India at the international level.
"I don't know how I should be feeling cause honestly I am still figuring it out," he wrote. "The very thought of not being able to represent my country again literally stops my heartbeat for a while.
"Personally there have been quite a few glorious moments in my cricketing journey in India. Winning the U-19 World cup for India is one of the biggest moments of my life. It was a special feeling to lift the cup as a captain and bring smiles to so many Indians across the world. I can never forget that feeling. Also, leading India A on numerous occasions and winning various bilateral and tri-series are etched in my memory forever."
Chand played 67 first-class games, scoring 3379 runs at an average of 31.57. He fared better in List A cricket, where he scored 4505 runs at an average of 41.33 in 120 outings. In T20s, he had 1565 runs at an average of 22.35 and a strike rate of 116.09 in 77 games.
Chand shot to prominence after the 2012 final, his temperament standing out throughout the tournament as he guided India in unfamiliar conditions in Australia. He made his Ranji Trophy debut for Delhi while still in school and hit his maiden first-class century - 151, his best - in his fourth game. He then made his IPL debut at 18, and while Chand failed to impress in the IPL (for Delhi Daredevils, Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals), he became a regular for India A and led them to victories against New Zealand A in 2013 and Bangladesh A in 2015.
But then a dip in form meant he was no longer a certainty for Delhi either.
In 2016, he was dropped from the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy squad. He left Mumbai Indians because of a lack of game time but went unsold at the next IPL auction. In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, Chand called this phase the lowest point of his life.
In 2019-20, he shifted to play for Uttarakhand as a professional but success eluded him there too. In seven first-class games that season, he made 195 runs at an average of 13.92. Chand is still hopeful of playing at the highest level even though he last played a domestic match more than 18 months ago.
"Things have not been as smooth in the last few years and opportunities have been denied," Chand wrote. "Though a part of me is not at peace with the way things have unfolded in the last few years, I still choose to see the silver lining and with fond memories bid adieu to BCCI and seek better opportunities around the world.
"Cricket is a universal game and even though the means might change, the end goal is still the same - to play cricket at the highest level."
*1730GMT, August 13: The copy was updated with the news of Chand signing up for the league cricket in the United States.

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo