After returning from Australia to a warm reception here, India’s triumphant under-19 World Cup captain Unmukt Chand on Tuesday said his players always had immense the self-belief that they would lay their hands on the coveted trophy despite the squad’s initial stumbles.
“The best thing about the tournament is we faltered initially and then we got into the groove slightly later in the tournament. We stumbled a bit, but we peaked at the right time,” said the Delhi youngster at a media conference.
“The best part was, we didn’t know what was happening in India, that really kept us on target. The belief was very strong among the guys and we always felt we will go and lift the trophy. The belief only took us further in the tournament.”
Chand, who top-scored for India with 246 runs from six games, including a match-winning knock of 111 not out in the final against Australia on Sunday, said the team members carried on with a positive mindset after losing the tournament opener against West Indies when the batting flopped.
“All the batsmen go out to score runs but most of the time it does not happen. We lost the first match against West Indies, but even from that we took the positives like our bowling and fielding. That we carried forward in further matches,” Chand said.
“It is not like I didn’t want to score but I was fortunate to score in the final when the team wanted me the most.” Chand also hailed the tips given by champion batsman Sachin Tendulkar to the team members before the squad left for the tournament.
“We had a half an hour session with him (Tendulkar) before leaving. The session was quite helpful. He told what we would face there and how we need to tackle it. He helped us a lot and told us the dos and don’ts.”
The Indian colts skipper, who smashed a match-winning century in the summit clash at Townsville, played down the talks about his imminent inclusion in the seniors team and said he is taking it step by step.
“I just take one tournament at a time and I am really happy that we did well together at the World Cup as a unit and the next step (for me) is India ‘A’ and I will be looking forward to do well over there. It’s too early to say anything about playing for India.
I do want to play for India but at the moment I want to focus on wherever I go and play.” (A berth in the) senior team is a long way away. Now there is an India ‘A’ team (tour to New Zealand) where I have to perform. If I perform well, then let’s see,” he said.
Asked on the comparison made between his batting and that of India skipper MS Dhoni, Chand said: “The media makes the comparison. We play over there... Sometimes you hit and sometimes you don’t hit. My role for the finals was to help the team reach 226 (winning target). I was successful, so I am really happy.
Triumphant team’s coach Bharat Arun praised the performance of the youngsters and expected at least four of them to peddle their wares at the higher levels of the game.
“It’s all about handling the pressure. As you climb higher up the ladder there is more pressure. It is all about handling pressure. The players need to mature.
They have the ability to perform at highest level but it is all about the mindset,” said the former India player. Arun said it was important for all aspiring players to try and become a good cricketer in the longest format of the game.
“If you look at most players in the IPL, they are good at Test levels as well. I would like to recall what Rahul Dravid and other seniors said... ‘to be a good cricketer, you need to build yourself as a good Test cricketer and that makes you a complete cricketer’. If you build yourself as good Test cricketer, then the other formats is just a question of the mindset’.”
The team members were later felicitated by the BCCI. Each player was handed over a cheque of Rs 20 lakh by the Board in appreciation of their feat. The support staff was given Rs 15 lakh each.