Unmukt Chand shined for India A in both the Warm up matches against West Indies © PTI
Unmukt Chand shone for India A in both the warm-up matches against West Indies © PTI

India A beat West Indies 2-0 in the two practice games they played, thereby denting the already fragile confidence of the Caribbean visitors. In both games, opener Unmukt Chand scored vital runs that helped India A to a victory. Shiamak Unwalla looks at the man who promised a lot but has failed to live up to expectations till now.

In every batch of Under-19 cricketers, there are those few who somehow seem to have that intangible x-factor which manifests itself in big games. Players like Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Virat Kohli all showed some spark long before their international debuts.

In recent times, Sanju Samson, Unmukt Chand, Sarfaraz Khan, and Kuldeep Yadav seem to possess that quality. Samson has received an endorsement from no less a player than Rahul Dravid. Kuldeep was recently picked in India’s squad for the first three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) against West Indies. While it is still early days for Sarfaraz, the right-hander impressed in the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014 when some of his more senior teammates failed.

Amid all these promising youngsters, lies Chand. His match-winning unbeaten 111 in the final of the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2012 is by now part of Under-19 folklore. That it was his third successive century in a final simply adds to his legend. And yet, with such obvious potential, Chand has had a rather mediocre career so far.

Chand

M

Runs

Highest

Avg

SR

100s

50s

First-class

31

1688

151

36.69

53.04

4

9

List A

47

1636

119

37.18

68.82

2

10

 

These numbers are not particularly bad, but for a batsman with his obvious talent, one feels that he has failed to do full justice to the opportunities that have come his way. For someone who made a name as an attacking stroke-player, his List A strike rate of just 68.82 is shockingly low, especially in the current age of T20 batting.

On the other hand, his current India A teammate Sanju Samson’s figures are far more impressive. The young wicketkeeper-batsman has played fewer matches, but has a significantly higher average in First-Class cricket, while also showing the ability to score big runs. His List A figures are less impressive, but even there he maintains a much higher strike rate than Chand.

Samson

M

Runs

Highest

Avg

SR

100s

50s

First-class

13

911

211

43.38

55.65

4

3

List A

22

554

85*

34.62

78.47

0

4

 

However, it seems that Chand’s potential might finally be realised. In the two practice matches so far, Chand scored 79 not out and 101, top-scoring for India A on both occasions. One of the main features of his innings was the ability to leave balls outside the off-stump early on in his innings.

Chand had said in his post-match press conference after the first practice match, “Once you get set you can play your shots. The mind-set is very important and I’ve worked on that. It’s important to leave the moving ball outside the off-stump.” This change in technique and mind-set seems to have worked wonders for India’s former Under-19 captain.

One feels that this new-found patience and temperament will go a long way in delivering the promises Chand made at an early age. With more experience and more application, he could become a permanent fixture in the India A team, and start knocking on the doors of international selection soon.

Complete coverage of West Indies tour of India 2014

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic. You can follow him on Twitter @ShiamakUnwalla)