Part of the India ‘A’ one-day unit touring Australia for a quadrangular series starting 20th July, Unmukt Chand, after an indifferent year, returns to the country which made him the poster boy of junior cricket in India.
The roles, however, have changed, and the situation is not the same as it was during 2012 and early 2013. He is no more the skipper, which he was of the U-19 unit and the India ‘A’ team which played against touring New Zealand ‘A’ in August 2013, and the runs are not on his side.
To reinstate the reputation he created after the U-19 heroics, Chand has to ensure that he’s back to his best when he visits the country where he lifted the U-19 World Cup. Relishing the challenge of performing Down Under, again, Chand is happy to pen a fresh chapter at his favourite hunting ground.
“Australia has been a good hunting ground. And, I want to go there and do well.” Chand’s ‘A’ call did raise a few eyebrows as other selections were of players with a good domestic or IPL season under their belt. Was he surprised to make the cut?
“Not at all. I did well while I played for the ‘A’ team last time around. Even this year, I have been doing really well in the one-dayers. Even for Delhi, I did reasonably well. Though we didn’t qualify, but I got some decent hits in the middle. So I was always confident about my one-day selection,” says Chand who led the ‘A’ side against New Zealand ‘A’ and amassed 164 runs in three innings.
The phase which Chand was undergoing early in his career – from 2012 to some part of 2013 – was one any junior cricketer would trade anything for. Everything was falling in place and it seemed the ‘big call’ was close to the door knock before he descended, and descended big, on the ladder to the Indian cricket team.
“Well, I had good knocks but they have come in patches. I get a good run, then a not-so-good one. It has been a mix of all these things, and I guess this is what prepares me for the bigger stage. From here on, I can only see myself going up the ladder. I am prepared, mentally balanced now than I was a year back,” Chand says with a pinch of maturity in his tone.
On how he will make up for the opportunities lost only time will tell, but for Chand it has been a lesson learnt. Both cricket and continued…