The Terrific Trio who brought glory to the nation

The Terrific Trio who brought glory to the nation

first_imgBefore Unmukt Chand’s brilliant unbeaten 111 in the Under-19 World Cup final-Wasim Akram called it the finest junior innings he had ever seen-only two others had scored centuries in the tournament’s summit clash. Yet, mention Brett Williams (Australia) and Stephen Peters (England) to the average cricket fan, and you are,Before Unmukt Chand’s brilliant unbeaten 111 in the Under-19 World Cup final-Wasim Akram called it the finest junior innings he had ever seen-only two others had scored centuries in the tournament’s summit clash. Yet, mention Brett Williams (Australia) and Stephen Peters (England) to the average cricket fan, and you are likely to get a blank stare. Peters, now nearly 34, never won an England cap, despite making more than 12,000 runs in first class cricket, while Williams played only four first-class games before fading away.Unmukt ChandClick here to EnlargeAfter India’s victory at the Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia four years ago, Virat Kohli, who captained the side, said: “I told the boys that we had to go out there and play the game of our lives.” Kohli has gone on to become a star, with a remarkable 13 one-day international (ODI) centuries from 87 innings. In January, he also scored his first Test hundred-against Australia in Adelaide.But for most of his teammates, that day in Kuala Lumpur will always be the highlight. For every Kohli or Yuvraj Singh, man of the tournament when India’s Under-19s emerged triumphant in 2000, there are dozens of others for whom the junior final is the zenith.Baba AparajithClick here to EnlargeRavneet Ricky topped India Under-19’s batting charts in 2000, but last played for the Punjab Ranji team in 2008. Shalabh Srivastava, who took 14 wickets for the class of 2000, was recently banned for five years after being found guilty of agreeing to fix a domestic game.At a function to honour the 2008 winners, Rahul Dravid spoke of how difficult the transition would be. “I just want you to remember that of the boys who won the U-19 World Cup in 2000, only one member (Yuvraj) was part of the Indian team (that won the three-nation CB Series) in Brisbane today,” he said. “It’s something for you to think about. I played for the U-19s in 1991, and was the only one in my team to go on and play for India. This is the start of a critical phase in your lives. What you do from here on is what matters.”advertisementHarmeet SinghClick here to EnlargeWith Indian cricket staring transition full in the face, it’s no surprise that there’s so much excitement over the Under-19 World Cup heroes. But Unmukt apart, most of them are not even guaranteed starting places with their Ranji Trophy sides. While this victory puts them in the limelight, the hard work starts now.Two of Kohli’s Under-19 colleagues, Ravindra Jadeja and Saurabh Tiwary, also earned the India cap. Neither is close to being a regular though. Manish Pandey, the first Indian to score an ipl century, is another who has yet to make the grade.Unmukt, who has made a habit of summoning up big innings when the team needs it most, clearly has the mental strength to make the leap. Baba Aparajith, who dug the team out of a deep hole against Pakistan in the quarter-final-they were 8 for 3 at one stage-has shown similar mettle, while it was Harmeet Singh who closed out that game by holding his nerve in the face of unrelenting pressure.Sandeep Sharma, who swung the ball prodigiously while also landing yorkers almost at will, and Kamal Passi, who impressed with both bat and ball, were other players to catch the eye. But as Dravid said, it’s what they do from here that will determine whether they emulate Kohli and Yuvraj rather than the what-might-have-been stories.-The author is editor-in-chief of Wisden India.last_img

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