Kolkata: The shift from age-level to the subsequent senior stages is no cakewalk. One might start off with thunder, but to maintain consistency with time is a big deal.
And India’s 2012 U-19 World Cup-winning captain Unmukt Chand (28) is a case in point. The gifted right-hander, honestly speaking, didn’t quite take the cricketing world by surprise by announcing his retirement from all forms of the game in India. To many followers of Indian cricket, he was already a forgotten hero. Unmukt has now signed up with the USA’s Silicon Valley Strikers in the Minor League Cricket.
The dashing Delhi batsman joins Kiwi allrounder Corey Anderson who too shifted base to the US in search of ‘greener pastures’. Shunned by their national sides, the USA seems to be a hot spot for discards.
So, what prompted Unmukt who even featured in a TVC with MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina to leave India? Close to 4,000 runs in first-class games and some IPl stints were not good enough for Unmukt to impress the national selectors. Not that he didn’t get his chances, but unfortunately he failed to live up to the promise – more than 60 first-class matches cannot be shrugged off.
Unmukt is yet another example of a promising player who faded into oblivion. Looking back, there are plenty of examples of cricketers who started with a bang but eventually diminished – blame it on poor performances or injustice or lack of mental agility to make it to or survive at the international level, these players’ careers came to an abrupt end. Vinod Kambli, L Sivaramakrishnan, Narendra Hirwani, Amol Muzumdar, Dinesh Mongia and so on – some were lucky to don the national jersey, others like Amol and Unmukt languished at the domestic level.
In some cases, injuries have ruined their chances, apathy from selectors and team management has also been a factor. Some special lads got carried away by success and couldn’t sustain. As far as Unmukt is concerned, to be unbiased, he could never ever come close to knocking on the doors of the Indian team. He has had his fair share of success but that certainly didn’t open the gates to the biggest stage.
While his senior Virat, who also led the Under-19 side to a World Cup triumph held on to the momentum and handled the transition adeptly, Unmukt perhaps couldn’t take the pressure and was left behind in the race.
Unmukt may have lacked a mentor who could have shown him the right direction. Eyebrows can be raised on why despite representing the same state, Unmukt couldn’t do a la Virat, but that is unreasonable. Special talent like Virat is born once in a blue moon, but in the hindsight, one would have expected Unmukt to at least represent the country, but he has disappointed.
He may rue over his missed opportunities, but deep down, even Unmukt wouldn’t have any grudge. The class he boasted didn’t catapult him to the international level or maybe, he lacked the nerves to withstand the rigours of cut-throat competition. Unmukt has the answer to these puzzles, but honestly speaking, the decision was coming.
Best wishes on your new innings, Unmukt!