Date- August 26 & Year 2012 was the moment when a new hero was born for India named Unmukt Chand. He had a habit of scoring centuries in finals of the tournament and he passed the litmus test when he scored another century in the final of the Under 19 World Cup 2012, at a stage at which it mattered the most.
Chand played an innings of 111* to spearhead the Indian batting line-up and ensured that he, as a responsible captain see his team winning the World Cup for the third time in the history.
Comparisons were drawn and Chand was touted to be the next Virat Kohli of India. Well, why not? He is from Delhi, plays big innings and most especially won the U19 World Cup just like the present captain of Indian team but Unmukt really couldn’t follow Kohli’s footsteps.
He performed well but in pieces. He also led the India A team to a tri-series n but still couldn’t make it to the international level.
The biggest shock came for him when he was dropped from the Delhi side for the first three games of Vijay Hazare Trophy 2016/17 and another disappointment followed when he went unsold in IPL auction. Once one of the youngest players in IPL and seven years later no buyer for him.
Unmukt’s life took a turn but he made a comeback to Delhi side with a bang, playing an innings of 64 in his comeback game.
Just like thousands of domestic cricketers, Unmukt too dreams to represent the nation. He has the age with him and one good season can really help him get a place in the national squad.
Sportzwiki caught up with the former U19 World Cup winning captain where he opened up about his future plans, lessons learnt after playing under Sachin and Ponting and also new role as a wicketkeeper –
SW: So Unmukt, take us back to Townsville and narrate your innings and feelings on that day, the final day?
Unmukt: Well it’s been a while since we won the world cup, of course, one of the special days for me and my teammates and the country as well. I think, playing the final against Australia in Australia was a great feeling and having won it also makes it special. I was grateful to get runs in that match and win that match for my team so. One of my best performances of my life.
SW: And what was the message between Smit (Patel) and because India was four down for 97 and target was still 130 runs away?
Unmukt: Nothing, I think it was important to build a partnership. We had lost four wickets, so it was really important for us to capitalise on that and just play and play on and I think both of us could do that, could build a partnership and could carry on the momentum forward and that’s how we went about it and get closer to the target and I think it was important to take match as close as possible because under pressure they will also crumble and we knew this and that’s how that what we planned and it happened as well.
SW: The numbers shows that the Indian top order has failed to provide a good start to the team and the new selection committee is always looking for a new face? Do you think that it’s a good time for you to bid and earn a spot?
Unmukt: Well I can, I am just, my job is to keep performing well wherever I go and play and I think the selection and those things are not in my hands. My job is only to play good cricket. That’s the whole focus and I mean team India is doing really well. Of course, it’s my ambition to play for the country and I am working hard for that as well
SW: You were a regular member of India A and also led the team to a successful triangular series win in 2015 but you missed the bus last year. What went wrong on your part Unmukt?
Unmukt: Well I think, I have been doing reasonably well in the A series and I got a chance to lead the A team as well and I did well in that series. I got runs in the Deoodhar Trophy as well. I mean I was amongst the top two run-getters in the Deodhar Trophy. Somehow it didn’t go to play in the next series. Also because of a couple of players had come from India as well. Of course, they get the first preference, so it makes a difference as well, so I think, again I said, the selection is not in my hands. I can just go there and perform well each time and make the best of every opportunity I get.
SW: You got a chance to lead the Delhi Ranji side in the opener and two games as well. How was the feeling at that time?
Unmukt: It’s always a treat to lead Delhi. I have played for Delhi since my under 15 days and of course leading the side is also a sort of a dream come true. I am really happy to lead the side, it’s a good side. I mean we, many of us…..it’s a young side and all of us are aspiring to play for the country. Many of us are playing in the IPL as well. So it’s a good bunch of boys to lead and I am sure that in the years to come we will become one of the best sides in the Ranji as well.
SW: You have played under likes of Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting. How do you look upto these three legends of the game?
Unmkut: I mean you get to learn so much from these guys. All of them legends of the game, they have got inputs, so many inputs from them help you shape your career as well and so many things I mean in terms of technicalities of the game, in terms of strategy, strategising of the game. You get to learn from these guys…..staying around with these people makes a lot of difference to your confidence as well. So many things, many things. I think I have learnt a lot from all these legends and many more in the previous seasons of the IPL and it’s a great feeling to be associated with them in some or the other way and learn from them.
SW: From last season you have taken up wicket-keeping duties as well. So was it your idea or someone persuaded you to do so?
Unmukt: Well, I think…I use to keep wickets in my school days and I have kept once in a T20 as well 3-4 years back. So, Gauti Bhai (Gautam Gambhir) knew that I can keep wickets well. The wicket-keepers in Delhi were not doing well at that time and this was before Rishabh Pant had come to the fore and so then we wanted to play an extra batsman and if I keep the wickets, we would have probably played an extra batsman or an extra bowler. So that’s how it all came up and I took it and I mean I also was surprised that I could keep the wickets pretty well and looking forward to doing it more if my team needs it. It’s an important job, keeping the wickets and I think it has come really well for me, last year as well and this year as well I have kept wickets so looking forward of doing more of keeping the wickets.
SW: Do you think that this will strengthen your chances in future because MS Dhoni is still uncertain about his future? So, will it help?
Unmukt: Well when you do things, you don’t think that beyond yourself, I think it’s really important to contribute to the team in ways you can. Be it my batting or be in any way if I keep the wickets or I am fielding. I can get probably get those couple of run outs and good catches. So that’s what you think at the moment, I think there is no point going too beyond yourself that making your plans about how this will happen, that will happen. It’s a bigger plan, I mean, things happen when they are supposed to happen. So probably I am just trying to do the best I can in any department I am doing.
SW: Any special message from state mates like Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli and Virender Sehwag?
Unmukt: I mean similar, these three are also the legends of the game and playing with them from so many years really shapes your character as well and get to learn so much from them. These people have really taken the game to the next level and it’s always good to be around these people. I mean the way they think, the way they function. It makes a lot of difference to you as well and…….so I have been learning from them. It’s a good environment inside the team room and we enjoy a lot as well so it’s good.
SW: Well, you always paid extra attention on your studies. You have missed a game and also a tournament. So how do you make a balance between the two and also your message to the youngsters who find it difficult to make a balance between the game and the studies?
Unmukt: Well ya, when I was in school, of course, studies came first to me and so I have always maintained a balance in terms of I was always studious initially and then cricket was part of my daily routine. So I think, if you use your time well, it can easily be managed. I think, I don’t remember wasting any time before 12th. Either I was playing either I was studying, that’s it. No other thing, to do, so it’s again discipline, you have to do it throughout the year. You can’t just think of doing it two months prior to exams or prior to two months of a tournament. You have to do it throughout the year and if you can keep that discipline of be it studies or be it doing anything throughout the year, probably you do well in that field
SW: So can we see one more book written by you in future?
Unmukt: Well again that’s not what I have thought at the moment. Of course, I keep writing on and off. So as the first book came, I mean if it is supposed to come, it will come definitely but right now it’s not there in my mind.
SW: How do you summarise your career so far? Do you think you missed an early bus to the team, the first-hand opportunity?
Unmukt: Well again, it’s all theory of relativity you can say. You can compare it to people then you might say that yes I missed the bus but I think it only come when you are ready when it is supposed to come and nothing is early or late I think. So whenever it comes, it has to come with a bang. So that’s more important, whenever you go there, you have to be ready and may be it’s taking me a bit more longer but I think it doesn’t make a difference. If I can instil a lot of fears and if I can contribute to my team, to my state team, to my country in any way, in some way, I think it’s a privilege for me.
SW: You will soon be turning 24 next month, are you ready for a special wish from Virender Sehwag?
Unmukt: (Smiles) Let’s hope so.
Rapid fire round:
Best moment till now on the field – Scoring My first hundred in the Ranji Trophy.
Closest buddy in dressing room – Manan Vohra, he is a very close friend to me.
Best bowler you have ever faced in domestic cricket – R Vinay Kumar.
Best piece of advice from anyone – Keep It simple.
The personality that inspires you the most – Many people have inspired me over the years, I mean, I can’t say one name because in different stages of life you are inspired by different people and to name a few, Sachin of course, my uncle has inspired me a lot, I have got couple of other people, other members of the family who have been very aspiring, so quite a few have inspired me. I can’t say one people have inspired me. Many people have inspired with throughout the journey.