Chand grounded on landing

India Under-19 skipper says his focus is on India A tour to New Zealand,not senior team

Written by Bharat Sundaresan | Mumbai | Published: August 29, 2012 1:28:53 am

You could see that considerable time had been spent in front of the bathroom mirror after they had landed jet-lagged from Australia earlier in the day. The many varieties of spiked tresses might not quite have blended too readily with the formal setting of the evening.

But who could really blame them.

This was after all these teenagers’ finest hour yet. Their maiden tryst with stardom. And Unmukt Chand & Co’s first-ever outing in front of the media glare. Having done all the hard work in securing India’s third under-19 World Cup in 12 years,it was now time for the 15-member squad,along with the support-staff,to cherish their time in the limelight. The Gen-Next’s wacky hairdos therefore were excusable.

As they were felicitated for their glorious achievement Down Under,the boys were informed by board officials and former cricketers alike that with this,their youth was over,and it was time for them to be welcomed into the man’s world — the time for tougher challenges and accomplishing greater cricketing dreams.

One young man in the bunch anyway didn’t quite seem to require this particular counsel. Chand had proved that he had already taken the step up a few minutes earlier,while addressing the Indian press for the first time since lifting the World Cup in Townsville.

He had done it by displaying a sense of maturity and equanimity well beyond his years,by refusing to be swayed by the incessant hype that now surrounds him and his teammates in the aftermath of the World Cup glory.

The 19-year-old Delhi opener had made it clear that basking in the exaltation for too long wasn’t in his plans. That his feet were well and truly grounded and he was now preparing for a lot more hard work and persistence before attaining the ultimate dream of playing international cricket. And the importance of staying in the present and not getting carried away with future talk.

Chand even dismissed claims of him being ready for international cricket already,insisting that thinking about a berth in the senior team was a long way away. The spiked hair and the immense self-confidence might have brought back memories of another junior World Cup winning captain from Delhi. But there just seemed to be more poise with Chand — at least at this stage of their respective careers.

“It’s too early to say anything about playing for India. The next step is India ‘A’ and I will be looking forward to doing well there. I do want to play for the senior team,but now my focus is on the ‘A’ tour and wherever else I go play cricket,” he explained.

There were many other signs of his ripened maturity on show.

Whether it was while describing the various challenges his colts had to overcome en route to the trophy or the overall importance of beating the Australians on their home soil.

Chand’s responses throughout were measured yet frank.

He hardly flinched at any query and not once was he anything but precise. Asked about the pressures of playing the World Cup final,he admitted that being away from the attention in India did help.

“The best part was,we didn’t know what was happening in India that really kept us on target,” he said. Chand also refused to be drawn into comparisons with senior team skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni after having produced a similarly majestic captain’s knock in a World Cup final.”

“The media makes the comparisons. We play over there. Sometimes you hit and other times you don’t,” he said in that typically pragmatic tone. Many,like even former Australian captain Ian Chappell,renowned for being among the hardest-to-please experts of the game; have already anointed Chand as being ready for international cricket right away.

But he’s in no hurry.

The World Cup win might have provided a flight of fancy for Chand and the rest of his champion teammates. But the flashlights will soon dim and the reality of the grind of domestic cricket and the many ups and downs en route to the biggest stage will begin to sink in. Chand,for one,is ready.

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