India won their first ever Under-19 World Cup in 2000 under the captaincy of Mohammed Kaif. But it was the 2008 triumph under Virat Kohli which made the Under-19 matches a regularly followed event for the Indian cricket fans. After the failure of 2010, the Indian National Cricket Team
again delivered some good performance in the 2012 Under-19 World Cup and reached the final. The team was led by another young Delhi batter Unmukt Chand and the coach was the current Indian bowling coach Bharat Arun. The comparison between Kohli and Chand was regular topic in that time, and everyone expected another master batter to come to Indian national team soon like the way Kohli made his transformation few years back.
Indians were in group-C where they ended as the second placed team and qualified for the knockouts. They beat Pakistan by 1 wicket and New Zealand by 9 runs to reach the final. These two tight matches gave them lots of confidence, but they met the host Australians, arguably the best team of the tournament. They were the unbeaten team in the tournament with their captain William Bosisto marked as a star for the future.
On this day, nine years back the two teams met on the final at the Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville.
Chand won the toss and decided to bowl first. The decision looked a good one as the opening bowler Sandeep Shrma delivered in the first over. Soon Australia were 8/2 giving Sharma his second wicket. They again lost two wickets in the 11th and 12th over and tottering at 38/4. Bosisto got the control of the match back and put two important partnerships of 65 runs with Travis Head (37) and 93 runs with Ashton Turner (43). Bosisto remained unbeaten on 87 as the Australians ended with 225/8. For Indians, Sharma finished with 4 for 54 and their fielding was world class resulting two run outs.
Indian chase did not start well as they lost opener Prashant Chopra for a duck. But Chand was in the other end and decided to anchor the chase. He and Baba Aparajith added 73 runs as the later contributed 33. There were couple of quick wickets as Hanuma Vihari and Vijay Zol were dismissed for 4 and 1. However, Chand found his perfect partner in the wicket keeper Smit Patel. The duo batted sensibly and took the total towards the target. Chand reached his hundred as Patel reached his fifty and the chase looked straight forward. Eventually, the dup remained unbeaten as India reached the target in the 48th over and registered their third Under-19 World Cup win. Chand was the player-of-the-match as Bosisto was declared the player-of-the series.
Although there were quite a few players from these 22 who went on to play international cricket like Hanuma Vihari, Travis Head, Cameron Bancroft, Sandeep Sharma and others, the two most talented at that time, Chand and Bosisto failed to make the cut and never even close to contention based on their mediocre first-class performance. We can call it fate or the gap between the age group cricket and international cricket. Unmukt Chand and Smit Patel recently joined a host of players to move to USA and will start their career afresh with the hope of making it to the US national team. It will be interesting to see if they cam achieve their dream of playing international cricket for their adopted country.