We play for each other: Chand
Mumbai, July 4: After leading his team to victory in the quadrangular series in Australia earlier this year, Unmukt Chand led from the front to help India become joint holders of the ACC Under-19 Asia Cup. The Delhi lad, who has made a habit of playing big knocks in crucial matches, has been named captain for the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup in Australia beginning August 2012.
The India skipper spoke to bcci.tv about his team and batting in a telephonic conversation.
Excerpts from the interview:
You are carving a niche for yourself as a big-match player, having led from the front and played a few crucial innings in knockout matches.
I have been trying to play through the innings. I have been trying to stay at the crease as long as I can and thankfully I was able to do that when the team needed it most. Whatever the plan was, I just wanted to stay there till the end so I could carry the whole innings. I wanted to stay at one end throughout to make it easier for the team. Thankfully, I have been able to do that and the results have been good so far.
Did you need to modify your game a bit to play the role of anchor?
It was not about modification. I adjusted [my game] according to the situation. There was not much happening on the wickets out there so I just wanted to stay there without taking any big risks, working [my way] through the innings. Since we were chasing we didn’t need to play any fancy shots so I tried to restrain myself from doing so and tried to be more disciplined while batting and that helped me.
Was there much anxiety playing the final against archrivals Pakistan especially since your team had lost to them by just one run earlier in the tournament?
There wasn’t any anxiety or anything like that. We were all very excited to play against Pakistan. All the boys were raring to go and they were all excited. The atmosphere in the dressing room [was like it should have been]. We have played two finals before and this was another final. We treated it as another match and fortunately it paid off [...].
You have had some good partnerships with Vijay Zol.
He is very good. I think he played a good innings against Pakistan in the league match and he has turned out really well. He had played well on the tour to Australia too. He is a good batsman, a promising batsman [...] He is one of the best batsmen we have.
What would you say are the strengths and weaknesses of your team?
I guess we have lots of strengths and that is why we are winning. We have won tournaments [...]. We just need to work a little bit on our middle order. We have been bowling really well in patches, so we just need to be more consistent. It is not a big thing and I think the boys will get acclimatised as soon as they reach Australia.
How will the team prepare for playing in Australia?
We have played there once before so we know what the conditions there are like. I don’t think it will be that difficult for us to adjust but obviously you need time. We have a few practice matches over there before we play the World Cup. Everyone knows what they need to work on and we will be working on [our game] till the World Cup starts.
The team has held their own in some tight situations. How do you motivate them at critical junctures?
The best thing is that all of them are motivated from within and want to do really well for each other. It has become a family. I don’t need to motivate them much. I just need to keep telling to stay focussed and not get excited. All of them know their jobs and I guess we will do well when the difficult phase of the championship comes.
Do you undergo any mental conditioning along with other training?
It depends on the practice [we undergo]. When we are in the NCA we do have some mental conditioning sessions [...]. We have a few coaches with us so we keep doing some work or the other, on or off the field. Besides, some of us have played the Ranji Trophy and [other big tournaments] before so there is a lot experience that counts [...].
You had a good stint with Delhi Daredevils recently. Did you get any captaincy tips from Virender Sehwag and the other seniors?
I spoke to them about many issues, but to be honest, I didn’t speak about captaincy. I saw [Sehwag] on the field so I picked up many batting tips but I didn’t talk to him about [captaincy]. But sometimes when I encounter problems, I do go to people [for advice] and they really help me out.
Is there anything specific that has helped you and that you would like to share with us?
Watching these [senior] players, you pick up a lot of things, not just directly but indirectly as well. That doesn’t really apply to captaincy; I have, however, picked up a few batting tips. I spoke to Virat [Kohli] when he scored the two centuries in Bangladesh and Australia [earlier this year]. At that time I was getting out in the 30s and 40s in the Ranji Trophy so I asked him [for advice]. He told me that it was important to believe in one’s abilities [...]. That it was important to react to the ball rather than plan one’s strategy beforehand. You don’t need much technical [advice] but these motivating words about one’s mindset before playing a shot help a lot.
Rush Kalaria is turning out to be an impressive bowler.
He is really good. He bowled really well in the [ACC U-19 Asia Cup] final and also earlier [...]. Our bowlers are doing a great job; they did really well in Australia as too. The most important thing is that they need to be consistent. If they can adjust to those conditions, then obviously we will do much better.