Updated: January 17, 2020 9:42:38 am
I would like to congratulate you on getting selected and being the proud recipient of the India cap and getting to represent India at the youth level. It’s a dream come true for any cricketer. The Under-19 World Cup is the pinnacle of age-group cricket and it is significant, perhaps more than playing for the senior team, for an aspiring cricketer. You are the chosen few and I am sure the best 15 in the country.
So be proud of it and enjoy every moment of it. It’s a god’s gift, embrace it. I would also congratulate Priyam Garg for being picked as the captain of this team. It’s an added responsibility but definitely worth it. Being the skipper is always special. We were a family (the team and the support staff) and to be at the helm of it brought out the best in me. I not only became a better player but also understood other aspects of life and it definitively shaped my personality for good.
The team always stood ahead of my own performances and I learnt how to be a team man. And in turn, my performances kept getting better with each outing. The higher the stakes, the better I got.
I realised I am as good as my team. My team wins, I win. We lose, I lose. More often than not, this feeling makes you do incredible things, which surprises me till date. A few of my knocks, which include the unbeaten hundreds in the Asia Cup semis and finals, the hundred in the quadrangular final against Australia and the century in the World Cup final to top it all still give me goosebumps. It was magical as if some higher force had taken over and made me sail through it with ease. I still don’t know how all that happened but I know for sure the fact that the bond between us teammates made me stronger and a better player, to have accomplished all that. It wouldn’t have been possible without them.
Being the U19 captain is special. I always dreamt of leading the team and winning the cup especially after I saw Virat’s team achieving the feat four years before me. Winning the cup was everything for us. We as a team literally knew the cup was ours before the tournament even started. Our preparation was top-notch. Our support staff was brilliant. We were putting our focus in the right direction.
Priyam, I would just share my feelings with you as a fellow player who has gone through the same phase. Do enjoy this phase to the fullest because this is the last time you would be playing together as a team.
All these years of hard work and fine tuning has got all of you here and this is the final destination before you head to your respective personal journeys. Make sure that you respect and love each other’s company. Yes , winning is important but still more important is the journey. It’s the experiences you share with each other that stay with you forever. So soak it in. It’s gonna stay with you for the rest of your life.
Listen to IE Podcast | Sexual harassment in Indian sports, ministers visit J&K and ‘virtual human’ NEONs
Personally, it was very emotional for me and for most of the boys knowing the fact that this was our last tournament together. Even before the finals, the only thing I said in the team huddle was this. When you all feel emotionally in sync with each other, you will be different players altogether. The magic would happen on its own.
Secondly, most of the boys are going to be in the spotlight for the first time in their lives. So don’t get too excited. Playing at that stage can attract unnecessary pressure if you get too ahead of yourself. Yes we all play to win, but ultimately you win with your processes.
So focus more on that. It has given you success in the past and it will lead you in the future too. Everything that is ordinary will turn into extraordinary in no time. So do not try to be different or extraordinary. I know it happens because of the occasion and young blood. We faced it too. The earlier you realise it, the further you will go.
It’s an early exposure so do not let it take control over you. Be aware, there would be distractions. The smarter you are, the healthier your choices would be. It’s an age where you want to try out new things. Be careful of your choices. If cricket is the priority, then you would end up taking the right decisions.
Most importantly, the tournament might not totally go as planned for you. There might be hiccups here and there. But don’t lose heart. Remember, god’s plan is always better than ours. So trust and move on.
We lost our first game against the West Indies and it was the reason we won the remaining games. Setbacks are necessary and important too sometimes. Take it in the right way and they would make you stronger only. Do not lose heart.
The next few days would be special for each one of you and as an Indian, I sincerely would want India to lift the cup again. My best wishes to everyone. Remember that the whole of India is behind you, cheering for you. May you do the job to the best of your abilities and shine.
The life ahead is going to be a puzzle. Be geared up for it. You will soon enter into the ‘Men’s world’. Some might play for the country, some won’t. But keep grinding. Life can surprise you in many ways you can’t even imagine.
So keep your spirits high, be tougher than the situations and fight it out. It’s a long bumpy road ahead. Keep driving smoothly with the headlights on. You will reach somewhere. Make that somewhere a nice place. Finally do not forget to keep a smile, it helps!
(Unmukt Chand led India to the Under-19 World Cup triumph in 2012. He is the captain of Uttarakhand.)
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.