Mumbai: Aug 31, 2013
Former India cricketers Balvinder Singh Sandhu and Praveen Amre launched Gaurav Joshi’s book ‘Teen Thunder Down Under’ on Saturday in Mumbai. It is an account of India’s amazing run to lift the under-19 World Cup 2012 in Townsville, Australia. Harmeet Singh, a star of that campaign was also present at the event as the author and the bowler shared numerous anecdotes. It isn’t often that someone writes a book on a youth tournament, but India under-19’s triumph in 2012 made a fitting subject for Joshi.
The evening commenced with Joshi throwing light on the idea behind the book. He was covering the tournament in Townsville and bonded with the players. Joshi said, “I never imagined I would write a book on a youth tournament. As the tournament progressed, I constantly pestered these guys (Indian team) by saying ‘why aren’t you doing this or that’, but we formed a great bond with the players and support staff throughout the tournament. After all I had so much to share. I wanted to share my experience about the youth of the game, who in future I am sure will turn into superstars.”
Sandhu, unsurprisingly, was introduced as the man who dismissed Gordon Greenidge during the 1983 World Cup final with the famous in-swinger. The former India bowler humorously remarked, “I am remembered because of Greenidge and now he will be remembered as Sandhu.”
Speaking about his days as the under-19 coach, he said, “Coaching under-19 team is fun, especially if you are in India. But, taking a team to Australia is tough.” He did stress on the young players to strengthen their basics. “As one moves higher, things get tighter. With weak basics one may succeed at the under-19 level, but will not do so at the higher levels.”
Amre, who is now a coach, said, “I think the under-19 level is a stage where the players start believing that they can go to the next level. It happened to me when I played in 1988. With that you get the motivation to play for the state and then India.”
Later, Harmeet was in the spotlight as he gave interesting insights into that victorious campaign. He had fallen ill before the quarter-final against Pakistan and recovered in time for the game. Speaking about the heart-stopping game which India won by one wicket, Harmeet said, “I never imagined that Sandeep (Sharma) and I would have to bat to get the last 10 runs.” Sandeep and Harmeet were a part of the 2010 World Cup team that lost to Pakistan in the quarter-final.
Townsville had become a home for the India under-19 team. A few months before the World Cup, they were in the city to play an under-19 Quadrangular series. On their return trip for the big one, they bonded and gelled with the Indian Diaspora. Harjinder and Poonam Bassi, an Indian family in Townsville made the young boys feel at home and cooked traditional dishes from their motherland. Harmeet still remembers their ‘Daal Chaawal’.
But, more than the victory, what tugged the heart was the fact this bunch of young boys brought together the Indian community. Joshi said, “A lot of them ended up coming at the games and were surprised to see so many Indians. Some of them asked each other how many years they had been in the city and were surprised that they hadn’t met before.”
For Unmukt Chand’s boys, it was a home away from home. “Some of the players even cried while leaving Townsville after the tournament,” Joshi said. That was how much that city meant to them.