On the eve of their final against Bangladesh, India coach Paras Mhambrey wants his boys to approach the game like any other. India has had a superb run in the ICC under-19 World Cup in South Africa and The Indian Express spoke to Mhambrey on the hype ahead of the title clash and what lies ahead for these players post the tournament. Excerpts:
What will you tell the boys who are one game away from the title?
Thankfully our big hype game is over vs Pakistan. We want to take this like any other game. Everyone here has worked hard to reach this day, to be in the final of the World Cup. Everyone here has been working together for the past one-and-a-half years to reach here. We want to experience this, let the boys enjoy it. Life ahead will be more challenging.
How did you deal with the hype?
There was a lot of talk going around then and it’s natural that people will talk about it wherever we go. Especially with regard to the Pakistan game. Be it friends, family, social media, no one could run away from it. The importance of the game made it more special. We all said that we till treat it as any other game. Not think too much and keep our focus on the process. Same is with the final, we will have to treat this game as any other game. The players experienced the India vs Pakistan game atmosphere. It’s once in a lifetime, and that too in a World Cup. We don’t want players to play with emotion. The support staff ensured not to hype up this game, and even (Rahul) Dravid sent a small video before the game. One can’t play cricket with emotion.
You must be pleased with the way the team played on the road to the final?
Of course. I thought, 250 would have been a good target in the last game. The chase looked easy but it wasn’t. Credit should go to both the openers who made it look so easy. At the same time, a lot of hard work has gone in, in terms of fitness, planning and scheduling. The boys came into the World Cup with decent preparation and a lot of credit should go to Dravid.
Post Sunday, all these boys will move into the men’s world. Did the management speak to players about what lies ahead?
We always do, we make them realise what lies ahead. The best person to speak to them is Dravid, everyone listens to him. We have touched upon hard realities and what lies ahead post under- 19. The challenges players will face once they go from here. Not everyone will play for India and not everyone will be part of a World Cup team. Under-19 is not the end of the world, players can still represent the national team if they do well in domestic cricket. We discussed this at length.
When did you guys decide this will be the core group?
We played so many matches in these last two years so, more or less, we had identified who could be our core team. Some players we got through the U-19 Challengers Series, but credit should go to the selection committee for picking the right combination.
Are you happy with the talent these boys have showcased?
Every boy who has made it to the team is talented and I think we have talent in plenty. It’s hard to pinpoint but we have a serious bunch of talent in India. I hope everyone will prosper going from here.
It’s the reality and we all face it. Again, a new batch will come in and we will spend time with them for the next two years. We try to pass on as much learning as we can, and our job is to help these boys. We have close bonds and that’s the beauty of it. I’m still in touch with players who won the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand. They will go from here to different levels of infrastructure back in their states and will learn and I hope many will do well.
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