Delhi opener Unmukt Chand had returned home from Chennai, a fortnight ago, after playing in the city league for the Auditor General team. In less than a week from now he will be returning to the south Indian city not to turn out for the institutional team again but to lead India ‘A’ in the tri-series involving South Africa and Australia.
Chand was expecting to be included in the India ‘A’ team, but being handed the reins of captaincy came as a pleasant surprise for the former Under-19 World Cup skipper, who has had a start-stop career since that glorious day in Townsville.
“Honestly, I was expecting an India ‘A’ call up because I have performed well, especially during the last Ranji Trophy season during which I scored four centuries. But to be given the captaincy was a bit surprising. Though, I have led India ‘A’ before and have helped them win tournaments, I think the selectors have really shown faith in me again and have taken my past performances into account,” Unmukt says.
Unmukt has played 14 matches for India ‘A’ and has four half centuries and one century – against the West Indians at Mumbai in 2014. Prior to the series, against New Zealand A, Chand’s sequence of scores were 94, 59 and 11 which helped him lead the side to a series victory.
However, following the Ranji Trophy season, his form dipped and he scored just one half-century and spend most of the time on the bench. But ups and downs have been a part of Chand’s career.
“I feel it is a very big platform for me and a good performance here will count. These kind of chances give me a kick. In the next few months, there is going to be a lot of cricket happening in India and one good series can take you from here to there. My career has faced a lot of ups and downs but I just keep telling myself to stay mentally strong in order to come out from a bad phase,” he said.
After Chand helped India U-19 to the World Cup, he was touted as the next big thing from Delhi after Virat Kohli, but his poor form and inconsistency have resulted in him not being able to take the big step. “As I said before, cricket is a game like that and you will have poor scores and good ones too. But this time I am mentally stronger and know how to pace my innings. Iss bar door todna padega. Meaning that I will make sure that my performances here, at the India ‘A’ level speaks for itself. And being captain will give me added motivation,” Chand said.
India ‘A’ squad for tri-series: Unmukt Chand (capt), Mayank Agarwal, Manish Pandey, Karun Nair (vice-captain), Kedar Jadhav, Sanju Sanson, Axar Patel, Parvez Rasool, Karn Sharma, Dhawal Kulkarni, Sandeep Sharma, Rush Kalaria, Mandeep Singh, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Rishi Dhawan.
India ‘A’ squad for Tests: Ambati Rayudu (capt), Karun Nair, Abhinav Mukund, Ankush Bains, Shreyas Iyer, Baba Aparajith, Vijay Shankar, Jayant Yadav, Axar Patel, Karn Sharma, Abhimanyu Mithun, Shradul Thakur, Ishwar Pandey, Sheldon Jackson, Jiwanjot Singh.