Success at U19 level is by no means a ticket to walk straight into senior international level but can be the yardstick to judge the talent.
As per the words of former Australian captain Ian Chappell, Unmukt Chand and Harmeet Singh are someone who should have graduated from U19 level well before the world cup. When someone of Ian statue says like that, you can sense what special talent those players posses. Although i don’t agree with fast tracking them to Indian senior team straight away but value in his view can’t be ignored. Because it was Ian Chappell who first jumped queue and said that Rohit Sharma must play in the test cricket no matter what, when he saw him for first time in 2008 CB series. It is pity that Rohit yet to make his test debut but had played over 80 one day and 25 twenty t20 internationals respectively. If I say India ill managed Rohit Sharma, then I will be wrong? Great minds do have great eye to spot talents and Ian got one big eye in that aspect. Its off no surprise that the two players he picked got impressive stats in Ranji already.
Unmukt Chand had scored over 700 runs at 43.41 avg with the high score of 151 from his 19 innings in 11 matches. He made his Ranji debut for Delhi at the age of 17 itself against Gujarat in 2010. Being the captain and with his region IPL franchise Delhi Daredevils contract, Unmukt Chand was already talk of town but Harmeet Singh wasn’t, despite holding an astonishing record in a period where spinners are dying in India. He had taken 17wkts @ 17.94 avg from 5 innings in 3 matches with a five wicket haul against Tamil Nadu team that includes the likes of Mukund, Badrinath and Dinesh Karthick.
Nevertheless these two players stint at world cup should have made them more mature than they were earlier, especially Unmukt Chand who is often guilty of throwing away wicket, may be its the price the flamboyant players had to pay. Unmukt style of play is joy to witness, bat hitting the ball sounded as sweet as it should during most part of his batting in the U19 world cup final but he need to tighten up his technique and defense. He like most youngster got the habit of chasing wide deliveries and having a real go at it. People draw unwanted comparisons of Kohli with him but on hindsight, it did have some merits. Earlier, Kohli like Chand was flashy and had very attacking style, which when comes out looks great otherwise flops. But Kohli curved down his flashiness and tightened his technique along the road to the Indian team. So, the route for Chand is already exist in the name of Kohli, play more longer formats (first class matches), spend lot of time in middle, make scoring big hundreds as habit and force himself into the Indian team with U19 success at his back.
Harmeet Singh unlike Unmukt Chand is not yet guaranteed of his place in starting XI of Mumbai Ranji team. He has to fight with Iqbal Abdulla and Ramesh powar. Harmeet got a natural loop, drift and guile for a spinner but he got some pitfall in his technique like falling towards right (as said by Sanjay Manjrekar and Aakash Chopra). Though Harmeet deceives batsmen, he lacks in variation (apart from arm ball), varying the pace and using the crease, which are some of necessary skills needed to succeed at international test cricket level. He can develop it only by playing more. Same goes to Baba Aparajith, who without any doubt the most sound technique batsmen in the current Indian U19 team. But Aparajith is an all-rounder, for which he needs to add more skills than what he posses now. With his success at U19 world cup and Ashwin away in national duty, Aparajith will find his way into Tamil Nadu Ranji team lot easier.
What way BCCI or selectors and any other responsible individual in Indian cricket can help Unmukt Chand, Baba Aparajith, Harmeet Singh, Vikas Mishra (another impressive left arm spinner with good Ranji stats already), Sandeep Sharma (unsung hero of Indian U19 team), Ravikant Singh (got pace and nip, good action too) and Rush Kalaria (promising left arm seamer, played only one match in world cup due to injury) is, by providing better platform and thorough monitoring to not just develop the talents but also nurture it. By talking with their respective states official on chances of them in Ranji, playing them in board team matches against touring international teams, selecting them in Indian A team, sending them to England for full county season and most importantly having a month long talent nurturing camp once in a year where legends like Anil Kumble, Bishan Singh Bedi, Rahul Dravid and Kapil Dev oversee these players directly.
In a nation with over billion population, there was, is and will never a drought for talents, only the system to take the talent into it is missing.
Tags: Anil Kumble, Baba Aparajith, BCCI, Bishan Singh Bedi, grooming young talented cricketers, Harmeet Singh, Ian Chappell on fast tracking Unmukt Chand and Harmeet Singh, India U19 wins U19 world cup, Indian Cricket Team, Indian U19 players, Kamal Passi, Kapil Dev, Rahul Dravid, Ravikant Singh, Rohit Sharma, Rush Kalaria, Sandeep Sharma, Unmukt Chand scores ton in the world cup final, Vikas Mishra, Virat Kohli