Ngathingpei Khayi

You can make anything by writing – CS Lewis

Let the story begin!

Meet Under-19 World Cricket Champion captain Unmukt Chand, who is learning the art of handling the instant stardom and it seems he is loving it!

First of all the most important lesson, it is not easy to catch a World Cup winning captain on that if he is a cricketer in India. However, it was understandable with Unmukt Chand as he was in the middle of Ranji Trophy in Ferozshah Kotla in the capital and his college exams were coming up. We finally met him at his home in Mayur Vihar extension after the match where he played a wonderful knock of 134 against Tamil Nadu. Not bad, he is going great guns for a beginner!

This lad from Delhi relives the moment he spent in Australia during the World Cup tournament. “The experience of winning the World Cup was just wonderful. We had a great time out there and the deal was sealed with the win. Our hard work and support from coaching staff did not go in vain.” Their win look like a cakewalk, however it was not easygoing after all a bunch of boys from all over the country were coming together as one. “Initially there were some differences but we made sure that we don’t lose the focus, which is winning World Cup. We tried to concentrate mainly on three things, firstly no matter what in every match we will control our aggression. Then there should be communication between the players and thirdly, the most important that we should believe in ourself.” Continues the skipper about their dream run, “Though we were not the best team but one of the best unit. We believed in ourself, there was not a moment where we thought, what if we lose? We started our campaign with a lost (West Indies by four wickets) but the only thing that was in our minds was when we are going to win and take the trophy home.”

After that it is all history. Once they have defeated the defending champion at their home ground, now they are working out to make their careers. “We (team) are still in touch and meet up on the ground here and there playing against each other, as now we represent our respective states. It is good to know that they are all doing well,” now he is talking like a true leader. “Whenever there is highlight of the match in TV or something related to it, we call one another to watch it.” After all boys will be boys.

As they say fame don’t come easy, like recently in an event he banged into Kapil Dev in Delhi, who thought he should be practicing for the match (India-A v/s New Zealand) instead. Unmukt giving his side of the story, “Well I didn’t go there (India Today’s Youth Summit) by myself but BCCI asked me to do so. I was in Banglore, practised in the morning, took flight for the event, and went back in the first flight itself.” After this, the obvious thing that comes into mind is endorsements taken up by players. “Well, I can’t say much on this, it’s a personal choice. There are people like Pujara who don’t do endorsements and like Virat who do.” But the question here is, does it affect their game or not? “To be true it doesn’t, it hardly takes much time, and one can do it on the off days.” Well boy bask in the glory but you better be careful, your career has just begun.

And how can one forget Unmukt Chand’s twist with his college because of short-attendance. He is pursuing B.A (Program) second year from St. Stephens College in Delhi University. “I think there should be some leniency for players who are at state or national level. There are many students taking admission through sports quota and doing nothing, at least we are bringing the results. If not postpone they can at least hold special exam.” Indeed there should be some way out after all they are bringing accolades for the nation and this must be the reason why MS Dhoni came out in his support. Never mind at the end he got to sit for the exam and everything is fine now.

It seems like yesterday only, they came home as champion but he is already three Indian Premier League (IPL) old. “It is great experience for fresher like me to share space with star players like Virender Sehwag and David Garner. Viru-bhai is one of coolest and jolly guy I have met. I have never seen him worried or tensed about anything. You get to learn a lot just by staying with them.” Sharing a little secret from IPL he says, “I used to be really scared of facing Shaun Tait’s bowling in my first year at IPL.” And who said that he follows Virat Kohli for fashion? “No way, I don’t follow anybody, I like to follow myself.”

Like all the Indians, his cricketing hero is Sachin Tendulkar. “I grew up watching him play, he is inspirational the way he carried himself on and off the field for so many years. I just wish that he never stops playing and I get my chance to rub shoulders with him.” Yes indeed, we would love to see you in senior side! “I would love to be in national team but that is not under my control. There is a procedure, so all I can do is play my game well in domestic level and wait for my chance. It doesn’t matter what format, I just want to be playing for the country.” Looking at his current performance, it seems this wish is also not so far.

No matter what, he is already a star, a household name. And a good news for all the girls out there he is single. “It feels good to know that people like you. In the beginning I felt little awkward but now I can handle it. But it is all because of the cricket, that’s why I need to play better and it is just the beginning.”

(Published in Mandate Jan ’13, Page No. 49)

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