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Finals,Aus bring out best in Chand

This wasn’t Unmukt Chand’s first visit to Townsville,the city which hosted the Under-19 World Cup final. So he knew the way to the Sai Baba temple

Written by G.S. Vivek | New Delhi |
August 27, 2012 1:51:58 am

This wasn’t Unmukt Chand’s first visit to Townsville,the city which hosted the Under-19 World Cup final. So he knew the way to the Sai Baba temple. The day before the final,the India skipper spent an hour meditating at the temple — a routine he has followed on the eve of matches throughout most of his career.

When he was 12,Unmukt would recite the Hanuman Chalisa from memory. Even as he matured into an Under-19 star,Unmukt remained deeply rooted in religion.

In Mayur Vihar,thousands of miles away from Townsville,Chand’s mother and grandmother were in their bedrooms and were praying as Chand battled to make a match-winning,unbeaten 111 in the final. Father Bharat Chand Thakur sat in one corner of the sofa as Chand and his batting partner Smit Patel took India closer to victory. While fortune did favour Unmukt on Sunday — he was dropped on two occasions and survived a close LBW shout — there is no doubt that Chand has been blessed with the uncanny ability to produce his best when it matters most: in knock-out matches.

He also has the knack of getting the better of the Australians.

In April,against Australia in the final of the quadrangular tournament in Townsville,Chand had made an unbeaten 112. In a crucial game against England,Chand had scored 94,to help India set up that date with Australia.

In the Asia Cup,Chand scored centuries in the semi-final and the final. In an Under-19 tournament in Vizag last year,he was the second highest scorer and led India to the title.

Chand also developed a strong Australia connection early in his career. His first foreign tour,as a 10-year old,was also to Australia. “I think I have a strong Aussie connection,” Chand said.

His coach Sanjay Bharadwaj,who is also Gautam Gambhir’s coach said that Chand does find something extra when he plays against the Aussies. “We spoke before the game and the only thing he kept repeating was how he has to score run against Australia,” Bharadwaj said. Before Sunday,Australia’s Under-19 team had never lost a final,while India had never lost a game when Chand had scored a century. However,at the end of it all,it was Chand’s record that was intact.

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