New Delhi: There are few prouder men in the country at the moment than Bharat Chand Thakur, father of India Under-19 captain Unmukt Chand who on Sunday scored an exceptional century to lead his team to the ICC U-19 World Cup in Townsville.
"I am a proud dad now. I knew Unmukt would do it," Chand told Cricketnext from his home in New Delhi. "Defeating Australia in Australia wasn't that easy, but credit goes to the entire Indian U-19 battalion. They outplayed Australia in every department. India's bowling, batting and fielding were really brilliant in the final."
The six-wicket win in Australia made Unmukt, who plays Ranji Trophy cricket for Delhi, the third Indian to captain to lead the country to an U-19 World Cup after Mohammad Kaif in 2000 and Virat Kohli in 2008. Chand, however, chose not to compare the three victories.
"I cannot be biased. A victory is a victory. Whether it is Kaif, Kohli or my son Unmukt. Skippers played their role in their given opportunities. They all played well and won the golden cup for the country. We cannot differentiate their efforts and role. Everyone was excellent. It all about who grabs the opportunity," he said.
Both Kohli and Unmukt are products of the Delhi cricket scene and Thakur, a teacher by profession at Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya in Surajmal Vihar, lauded the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) for this incredible feat.
"The entire credit goes to the association who produced the young match wining talents” Thakur said. "Whether it is Virat or Unmukt, I see a lot of talent in these youngsters. DDCA's style of grooming youngsters is incredible. They polish them from the beginning and in every department. The last two U-19 World Cups are the perfect examples."
Unmukt has been compared to Kohli, his senior by four years, in batting style and leadership abilities and the 19-year-old has admitted to modeling his game on his Delhi team-mate. Thakur said both players had come up the hard way, and that was the major connection between the two.
"The best thing about Kohli and Unmukt is that whenever they get any opportunity, they grab it with both hands. Both have leadership quality. They both started from the ground level. Their effort in the nets in scorching summer days has paid off. They cemented their place in every tournament on their own," he said.
Unmukt came into the World Cup final with scores of 22, 78, 4, 0, 31 but on the biggest stage for an U-19 cricketer, produced the inning of his life – his fourth in knockout matches this year. Chand termed it a "valiant knock" and have credit to the entire team. "Being a skipper, he played a responsible innings and took the team to the victory," he said. "Defeating Australia in their own backyard is not easy, but these young guns have proved it. I would like to appreciate Smit Patel as well. He played marvelously and supported Unmukt from the other end. Both the batsmen were excellent in the final. I have all praise for the entire Under-19 team."
The way Unmukt's career graph is shaping up, he stands to make his father prouder in years to come.