'Bangladesh domestic circuit on par with India's' - EXCLUSIVE interview with Unmukt Chand
The year is 2012. A group of young lads has qualified for the final in the U-19 World Cup in Australia. And in the final, their opponents are the hosts themselves.
The Indian kids are being captained by a flamboyant young man whom the media have already started comparing to the likes of Virat Kohli. With dreams of playing for the senior side of the country, the teenage sensation goes on to the ground to battle the most successful team in the tournament.
The young man eventually went on to win the competition for the Indian U-19 side with a magnificent century as India equaled Australia’s record of winning the tournament thrice. However, that young guy didn’t have a smooth journey like Kohli and went through a series of ups and downs in his career.
After six more years into the game, he is more mature, more professional and more sensible. Unmukt Chand is the cricketer we are talking about here. He has recently come to Bangladesh to play for Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club in the Dhaka Premier League. With two back-to-back centuries, he has stolen the limelight in the Super League of the tournament.
Although the 25-year-old hasn’t been playing in his country’s most popular league for two years now, the IPL, he doesn’t seem to have been disheartened by this. Unmukt, one of the four U-19 World winning captains of India, hasn’t yet gotten a breakthrough in the senior team but hasn’t stopped dreaming about it.
In a recent interview with Cricfrenzy’s Umid Kumar Dey, he has shared his views on the gentleman’s game and talked about numerous things as well as the ongoing tournament that he is participating in.
Here are the excerpts from the interview…
Chand enjoying a bit of coconut water
Cricfrenzy [CF]: How are you feeling in Bangladesh?
Unmukt Chand [UC]: Feels good. I’m here for the third time. I really enjoy playing here. It’s a good experience.
CF: What’s the difference between playing domestic cricket in India and in Bangladesh?
UC: Cricket is the same. You play anywhere in the world, it’s the same obviously. [However] it’s a [bit of a] different experience here. The level of cricket is really good here as well when compared to that of India’s.
CF: We’ve heard claims that the level of the league in here is not as good as the rest of the world. What’s your take on that?
UC: I don’t think so. The league here is very competitive, especially for batsmen and spinners. Opponents have one or two fast-bowlers mostly, due to the conditions. So it’s a good practice against spin bowling. Every team has got a couple of good spinners who like bowling in tight lines, so it’s a good practice in terms of One-Day cricket.
I really enjoy playing One-Day cricket here. It’s very competitive as well. If you look at it, teams score good runs and produce big chases too. Depending on the wickets and condition, it’s not easy. The weather is also very humid and hot. So, it’s really a package here if you get some runs as a batsman or get some wickets as a bowler.
CF: We recently interviewed Mr. Manoj Tiwary as he was here to play for Gazi Group. He told me something which is perhaps hilarious but true as well. According to him, Dhaka traffic is the worst and to overcome that and play is hard. Have you had to face such a situation?
UC: Yes, of course. We all have. Dhaka traffic is unbelievable, it’s next level. One of the games that I was playing last year for Prime Bank was in Fatullah and I was staying in Uttara. It took us around one hour in the morning [to reach the ground]. When we left the ground at 5:30 in the evening, I ended up reaching the hotel at 10:30 at night. Five hours from Fatullah to Uttara!
I even tweeted that incident. I was shocked! It was the most bizarre moment of my life. I mean, crazy! That’s how it is and you can’t deny it. We all get used to it once we stay here for a couple of days. It’s a part of life here. We have that in India as well, but not as bad as this… [However] it is all a part of Dhaka.
CF: So, you won the World Cup as an Under-19 captain in 2012 and scored a century in the final. Mr. Ian Chappell said back then that you are ready to play for Indian national team at that time itself. You were hyped up and you certainly deserved that hype, too, but suddenly after that, you couldn’t live up to it. So what goes through the psyche of someone who has to face all that? First, the ups and then the downs, then again they say you’ve played excellent in Vijay Hazare Trophy and you are among runs here as well. So, what has been going through your mind since that phase?
UC: I’ve never created that hype nor did I diminish that hype. It’s all the people’s version of it, the media’s version of it. I’m growing as a player. You might not have very good seasons every time. You’ll have your ups and downs, I’ve had mine. That’s how you grow, that’s how you keep fighting.
There have been players like Virat [Kohli], who I have been compared with, who got to play for the country straight after the [U-19] World Cup. There is Shikhar [Dhawan] as well, who played [for the national team] so long [after playing in the U-19 World Cup].
I have my own story to live and I have my own struggles and victories. I’m happier being in my zone and growing in my ways rather than doing that as per people’s expectations. You have your life-lessons to learn and probably that’s more important than anything else. For me, it has been full of ups and downs, and I’ve really enjoyed it, learned a lot from it. It’ll definitely make me a better player, moreover, a better human being which is important in the longer span.
He carried himself in a very matured way throughout the interview
CF: You’ve been among the runs right now. So, what’s your plan with the Indian national team?
UC: I don’t plan that. I can only go and perform wherever I play. The aim is obviously to play for the country, but how that happens is not up to me. My only job is to score runs wherever I play.
CF: You’re going to miss the upcoming IPL…
UC: That’s okay. So many players are also going to miss it as well. It all happens at times. Good things happen too. Life is a package, isn’t it? You can’t expect yourself to be the cherry all the time… [It is all] a part of growing up.
CF: What’s your take on the mental aspect of the game, as in what do you think when you go out there to play?
UC: There are so many things and external factors that I can’t really control, but what I can control is my reaction to whatever comes; I can just go and perform wherever I can, just do the best I can, watch the ball, get the processes right. If I can do those things, the result might fall into my pocket—sometimes they won’t—but if I can do the same things again and again and if am more aware…definitely, I will be more successful.
CF: What do you think of Bangladesh cricket and the way they grew in the last three-four years?
UC: Bangladesh are doing well as a team in the international circuit. Owing to the fact that they have a good domestic circuit. It’s always good as an overseas player to come in and play for a team and do well for them. For us, it’s also very competitive because if you don’t do well then you go back. It’s highly professional in that sense. So, it definitely is a competitive setup which helps all of us to gain.
CF: Did you follow the Nidahas Trophy?
UC: A little bit.
CF: What do you think of Bangladesh’s performance [in the tournament] and the crunching final?
UC: They played the match in a great way. Unfortunately for them, Dinesh Karthik came out at his best. Nonetheless, I think they played a great game. Nine out of ten times they would have won that game from there, but as luck would have it, Dinesh played a superb knock and won it for us.
CF: So, you’re playing for Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club. Who do you think are the best players in the team?
UC: It’s a tricky question actually. A couple of the players are playing for the national side at the moment. Hence, it’s very difficult to answer. I haven’t seen much of them. One or two games can go up and down for anyone for that matter. Guys are doing very well and it’s difficult for me to point out just one of them.
I know [Nurul Hasan] Sohan really well. He was my team-mate at Prime Bank last year. [Nazmul Islam] Apu is doing well. He played well for Bangladesh in the Nidahas Trophy. Fast-bowler [Abu Jayed] Rahi is a good bowler, so is Rabiul Haque. Tanbir [Hayder] is a good batsman. Shykat [Ali] batted well in the last innings.
CF: Who is your favorite Bangladeshi player? Who inspires you the most?
UC: Again, it’s a tough question to answer. It’s not about inspiring, but Shakib is doing well, so is Tamim. These are the big names. Mushfiqur is a good player as well. The fast-bowler, Mustafizur, is also really good I think.
CF: Best of luck for the rest of the season ahead of you and I hope you make Dhanmondi the champions.
UC: Thank you.
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