A great deal was expected of India's U-19 skipper Unmukt Chand after his team's World Cup triumph in Australia. He impressed with his gutsy, match-winning knock against Australia in the final.
No less a legend than Ian Chappell had said that Chand and left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh ought to be in the same room as India's seniors. Somehow the story didn't unfold on expected lines. The Delhi lad had a quiet Ranji season by his standards — 445 runs from eight matches with one century. In India, opinions take a radical shift quickly. They said fame and adulation had got to him.
Maybe, Chand didn't intrigue us anymore until he was seen in a recent soft drink ad, rubbing shoulders with India's biggies: MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli.
If that shoved him into the spotlight even briefly, Sundays' match-winning knock of 116 in the Vijay Hazare Trophy reminded us that this talented youngster, however inconsistent, needs to be nurtured. For the record, Delhi won the title, beating Assam by 75 runs in the final at the ACA-VDCA Stadium, Visakhapatnam.
“It is obviously a great feeling to score a century and help your team win. And it is special because it is our first Vijay Hazare title,” Chand told DNA.
He knows he could have had a better Ranji season. “It is better to just forget the past. I wanted to score runs and I know a lot was expected from me, but things don't always happen the way you plan,” he said.
But Chand mentioned that he has learnt a lot this season. “I will try to improve and will keep working on my game. I hope to apply and get loads of runs under the belt,” he said.
The youngster said he was excited to play alongside Gautam Gambhir in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. “You learn a lot while playing with him. He makes a lot of difference to the side and the players, too, get inspired,” said Chand.
The T20 season will soon be upon him, and Chand is keen to deliver. “Now it's two months of T20 cricket: Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy and the IPL. I hope to do well in both the tourneys.”
Brief scores: Delhi 290/9 in 50 overs (Unmukt Chand 116, Punit Bisht 52, Jagrit Anand 48; Pritam Das 3/54, Arup Das 2/64) bt Assam 215 (Dheeraj Jadhav 87; Rajat Bhatia 3/36, Parvinder Awana 2/31, Varun Sood 2/46)