I was determined before finals: Chand
Mumbai, Aug 29: Unmukt Chand has displayed the same poise with which he led his team to victory in the ICC Under-19 World Cup, since returning to India. Not swayed by all the accolades that are coming his way, the India U19 skipper demonstrated grace and patience as those around him clamored for his attention during a felicitation ceremony in Mumbai.
It was his awareness that this is only the beginning of his journey into the real world that caught everyone’s eye. Being in the eye of the media would have fazed any other 19-year-old, but Chand showed utmost poise as he fielded everyone’s questions.
Excerpts from his interview with bcci.tv:
After playing some very tight games in the lead-up to the final, what did it feel like to finally win the World Cup?
All matches were really close and were high-pressure matches for us. There had never been a one-sided victory for us. It was really good [to finally win]. I was relieved once we won the final. Till the last ball, I was [telling myself] we have to pull it off. Till then, I never let Smit [Patel] smile [even] when we needed 10-15 runs. That’s what we had planned [to play till the end]. I am really glad we could finish it off together.
Although you weren’t amongst the runs in this tournament, you played the match-winning knock in the finals. How did you prepare for the big day?
I was very determined to do it. People were saying that the semi-finals and finals are mine. So, I had gone with extra determination that I will prove myself in these matches. I got off to a good start in the semi-finals but was on 33 when I just missed the line of the ball. But in the final, I again went with the same thing, same feelings and I am really happy that I could make it count when I was required the most. I [basically] just went with the same feelings, same things I had planned before in the Asia Cup and all the other tournaments as well.
Before the tournament you had interacted with Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh, how did that help?
It’s really good when you interact with all these guys. They are legends and they told us about their own experiences and how they handled [pressure and different situations and] how they worked out when they were of our age. They spoke to us about what problems they faced and how they dealt with them. It was really good on their part to have shared these memories with us and also caution us about what we needed to do and what we don’t need to do.
You lost two key players just before the tournament, including your opening partner. How did that affect you and were there any challenges while bringing in two new players in the team?
It [losing Manan Vohra and Mohsin Sayyed] was a major blow to us before the tournament and I really feel sorry for these guys that they couldn’t be part of the World Cup team. But the way their replacements, Ravikant [Singh] and Prashant Chopra contributed was really good. They were amongst the ones who have performed in the tournament. Ravi Kant was a great revelation to us and he bowled really well. Prashant also chipped in with three half-centuries. So, one can say that they really filled in the boots [of Vohra and Sayyed] and I am really happy with the way they performed.
Often in the tournament your bowlers defended some low totals. What are your thoughts on that?
We have been a really good bowling unit from the very beginning, except the Asia Cup because the wickets there [in Kuala Lumpur] were really flat. We never let any team score more than 200. We always had it in our mind that, if we get off to a good start, [even] 200 on the board is good enough total to defend because our bowlers have been doing a great job. They did a wonderful job in the World Cup as well.
In retrospect do you feel you could have used Vijay Zol differently? Maybe played him higher up in the batting order?
It was part of team strategy. Some things click and some things don’t click. I haven’t thought of this change we could have made. We stuck with the plan of playing Vijay at No.5 and we never doubted this decision.
How did it feel when you came to know that the senior Indian team was following your progress in the tournament and got up early to watch the final?
That was really exciting. When we saw their interviews, that really charged us. All of us came together to watch them speak about us. That was really special.
Who in the senior India team inspires you the most?
At the moment, Virat [Kohli] is inspiring me because of the way he was playing and is still playing and because of all the fantastic things he has done in the past few matches. He is someone who has inspired me for the last couple of years.
What is plan going ahead?
I have been playing first-class cricket for the last two years and that has really helped me play good bowlers and against good teams. And to be in a side that has some great players has really helped me. Playing the IPL has also helped me because of staying with these senior players.
Right now, I just want to celebrate for a few days; take few days [for myself]. Then, again I start my India A camp in Bangalore. It is a great opportunity to be in that side. And the Under-19 [World Cup] is over, so I have always thought of playing for India A and then getting into the Indian side. So, it is a dream come true and I would like to perform there as well.