India unearthed several promising players in the tourney. The most noteworthy of the lot was the captain and opening batsman Unmukt Chand who averages 57 in the five first-class matches he has played.
India unearthed several promising players in the tourney. The most noteworthy of the lot was the captain and opening batsman Unmukt Chand who averages 57 in the five first-class matches he has played.

 

By Dileep V

 

India Under-19s comprehensive victory in the recent quadrangular series has buoyed the nation’s hopes about its cricketing future. The U-19 team won all their matches in the tournament featuring Australia, West Indies and Sri Lanka. Considering that the tournament was held on slow and low pitches of India, how much of it is down to skill will only be known when the same set of players play on hard and bouncy tracks in Australia and South Africa and the seaming ones in England.

 

Nevertheless, it was a decent performance by the Indian team – especially considering that they finished unbeaten. Though Australia and West Indies youngsters can be discounted for not having knowledge of the playing conditions, the same can’t be said about Sri Lanka. The islanders have a similar play conditions and gave a run for India’s money in the final.

 

India unearthed several promising players in the tourney. The most noteworthy of the lot was the captain and opening batsman Unmukt Chand. The Delhi player was the second highest scorer with 336 runs, at a strike-rate of above 100. His 39 boundaries and 12 sixes were both highest in the tournament.

 

Unmukt’s best came in the round-robin match against Sri Lanka. Chasing a modest 197 on a tricky wicket, he blasted his way to an unbeaten 91-ball 122. The Delhi lad was in his elements carting the Lankan bowlers all over the park. This innings, coupled with two other 50-plus scores, would have done wonders to the confidence of the young man, ahead of the Ranji season. He averages 57 in the five first-class matches he has played and if he continues his form in domestic cricket and shows his mettle for Delhi Daredevils in IPL, he could be on the fringes of the national side, what with the country having shortage of quality openers.

 

If Unmukt’s batting displays were eye-catching, then Tamil Nadu’s Baba Aparajith’s performance with the ball on wickets conducive to his style of bowling were definitely mindblowing. The Chennai off-spinner was the best bowler in the tournament snaring 22 wickets at an average of around 10, including two five-wicket hauls. That the next highest wicket-taker had 14 wickets make his feat even more commendable.

 

Others to impress include Punjab medium pacer Sandeep Sharma, who was the second highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 14 wickets. Akshdeep Nath and Hanuman Vihari got two fifties each while Delhi left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra and Gujarat’s Rush Kalaria, came to the party in the final of the tournament.

 

The BCCI should be commended for organising this event and making sure these players get exposure playing international teams. But the work will be half done, if they don’t send these promising young players on tours to Australia, South Africa and England which will help hone their skills against seam movement and bounce.

 

(Dileep.V is a Scouser fan, Sports freak, Movie buff, Laggard Quizzer and dreams of setting foot on Anfield one day)