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Prajakta Pawar in New Delhi 19 April 2012 - 02:10pm IST

Viru told me to stay calm: Chand

Victorious India U-19 skipper joins the Daredevils squad

India Under-19 captain Unmukt Chand, who led his side to victory in the recently concluded Quadrangular series in Australia, joined the Delhi Daredevils team here for IPL 2012.

After India lost all their three league games in the Quadrangular competition, the top-order batsman helped India seal their place in the semi-finals, and then win the series with an unbeaten century. Speaking about his growth as a player, Chand said that interacting with senior cricketers in the IPL and during the domestic season was helping him prepare for bigger platforms and greater responsibilities.

“[IPL] is a great platform and a good opportunity for me to share the dressing room with such players – you learn a lot. I was here last year also and I learnt a lot. The way they do things and their work ethic teaches you a lot,” he told iplt20.com.

“Last year when I was playing, I was getting a bit too nervous and excited. I spoke to Viru [Virender Sehawg] bhaiyya and he told me to stay calm. He said, ‘Just because it’s T20 it doesn’t mean you have to hit every ball. Be calm in the middle so you can hit shots’” he explained.
Chand, who was part of Delhi’s senior domestic squad in the 2011-12 season too, said, “I am going through a good phase. I played the Ranji Trophy, I am playing in the Under-19 side and in all the three formats – T20s, one-dayers and multi-day matches; personally it is very good for me. There are different players in all the teams and you get to learn a lot from them. In IPL there are international stars also [which helps].”
A naturally aggressive batsman who loves to play the square-cut, how does Chand prepare himself for a big tournament? “You need to mentally set yourself up for any of the formats. You have to plan the innings, you plan the game and accordingly you adapt yourself. That’s what I am trying to do; mentally prepare myself to play all the formats.”

Although an attacking player, Chand has learnt his lessons well and imbibed the advice of seniors into his game. His growth was evident in the way he led the U-19 side to victory Down Under. “We were really motivated to do well and had the belief that we would do well. [...] We knew that we could win so we just needed to push ourselves a little more. Personally, I was playing well in the first three matches [...] I was confident so I knew that I needed to stay there for some more time to score big runs. [...]”

Was it difficult to adapt to Australian conditions, known to test sub-continental cricketers? “The conditions were slightly different so you need to take your time. Once you do that it becomes easier. When the initial moisture goes away, it is really easy for you to score especially because the wicket is very true. That’s what I had planned – to stay [on the crease] so runs would come.”

When asked what it was like to face quick bowler Pat Cummins, who had troubled the senior team on their difficult tour of Australia, Chand said the strategy was to play him out and deny him wickets thus putting pressure on the other bowlers.

“I met a few players like Rahul Dravid while at the NCA [...] and spoke to Virat [Kohli] during the Ranji Trophy about a few things and that helped,” he added.

Back to the nets to prepare for a challenging tournament, Chand signed off saying, “I have done well in the tournament in Australia and look forward to doing well in the IPL.”

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