Home >mint-lounge >business-of-life >Unmukt Chand | The lost skipper

The most well-known name to emerge from the International Cricket Council (ICC) U-19 Cricket World Cup in 2012 was skipper Unmukt Chand, who scored a calm knock of 111 runs in the final, helping his side secure the title, a fact impressed upon by his childhood coach Sanjay Bhardwaj. “He is yet to play for India at the senior level, yet Unmukt is a name that people identify with. There aren’t many from that team who enjoy the same profile among cricket fans in this country. I think this is the biggest morale boost a tournament like this provides. When you play the U-19 World Cup, when you lead your side to victory in that tournament, as a cricketer you are closer to your destination more than ever before," says Bhardwaj.

Along with the accolades, also comes hype, and some are able to channel it in the right path. Like Virat Kohli did, making an immediate impact in the domestic circles which won him a chance to wear national colours and he hasn’t looked back ever since. For Chand, the wait has been longer, despite the fact that in 2012-13, the Indian team’s major problem was in the top-order and both Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir were dropped from the side.

“Hype is just another word to define the money and recognition that comes with winning on the field. I am not saying that it is needless criticism, but a player needs to channel all the positives and negatives in the direction that is right for him," says Bhardwaj, who also taught Gambhir during his early days.

Chand is counted among players who had already experienced first-class cricket before an U-19 World Cup outing. He was also signed up early for Delhi Daredevils. Turning out for Delhi, he scored 400 runs in five Ranji matches (average 57.14), with a maiden century in only his fourth first-class game in 2010. Since then it has been a declining curve, particularly when it should be on the rise. In 2011-12, he scored 338 runs in six matches (at an average of 33.80) and in 2012-13, after the triumph Down Under, 445 runs in eight matches (at an average of 37.08). In the last 10 matches this season, he has scored 392 runs at an average of 30.15 per innings.

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