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Viru, KP are my favourites: Chand

DD youngster looks up to world-class teammates

Unmukt Chand emerged as Delhi Daredevils’ highest scorer as they beat the Kolkata Knight Riders in the second match of the Karbonn Champions League Twenty20 2012. Part of a line-up comprising some of the best batsmen in the world, like Virender Sehwag, Mahela Jayawardene, Kevin Pietersen and Ross Taylor, the youngster shouldered the responsibility of building the innings and played a crucial knock to help set up the match against the Knight Riders.

When asked what it felt like to thrash international bowlers all over the park, Chand told clt20.com, “It feels really good.” The precautious youngster went on to add, “It is only the first match, so you can’t say much. The preparations have been good. I always like to play T20, so it is good.”

“My game is a bit aggressive, so I try to keep it normal. When I try to do something extra, that is the time I lose my shape and get out or something like that happens. So, I try not to do something extra and play my natural game and that’s what helps.”

An aggressive stroke-maker, Chand has plenty of gurus to learn from in the DD line-up. “Viru Bhaiyya and KP are my favourites. I like to watch Viru Bhaiyya bat; and KP, Ross, they all are good,” he said.

Chand received high praise from his skipper, Jayawardene, for his brilliant knock tonight. The DD captain said, “Definitely it was good knock. I saw him batting in the Under 19 World Cup final as well. It was a fantastic knock. When we came here and he was in squad I always wanted to try and back him and give him the opportunity. But I wasn’t sure where he is going to fit in that batting line-up exactly. I think he is a very mature young cricketer who understands the game much better. They were tough conditions but I think he handled them very well; so great credit to him. And hopefully he can improve further.”

Coming in to bat at 58 for two, Chand partnered with Pietersen and Taylor to take the score to 145 for five, before returning to the dressing room. His 27-ball 40-run knock was invaluable, considering the situation it came in.

However, there was a moment during his innings when his heart skipped a beat. Chand’s attempt to pull a Brett Lee delivery had sent the ball high up in the sky and with five fielders coming in to catch it; Manoj Tiwary coming in from mid-wicket failed to latch on to it. Meanwhile, Chand and Taylor ran three runs. Chand who was hesitant initially was urged into action by Taylor. Recalling the moment, he said, “I was quite nervous that it could have gone in the hands of a fielder. I didn’t want to get out at that time. There was some hesitation; it always happens when the ball goes up in the air. But eventually it landed safe and we took three runs.”

He added, “Taylor was telling me to go till the end and stretch it, and that it will be good for us and that’s what we did really and it helped us. He was just telling me to run faster; the more number of singles we take initially will really help us later in the match.”

When asked about his conversations while batting with Pietersen and Taylor he said, “It is really fun to play with all of them. KP and Ross especially are really supportive. They kept on telling me to stay there and hang in there and not lose my patience and just be there for some more time. If you can stay there for some more time then probably you can score runs later in the innings and that’s what really paid off in the end.”

Chand, who has been in sublime touch and has been scoring runs all over the world while travelling with the Under 19 team, also said, “Scoring runs where ever you can give confidence and runs. It’s good that they are coming outside India as well. These pitches are probably helping me because I like to play on the up and that is something really helping me and I would really like to score more runs in the future.”

The DD youngster has lately developed a knack for coming up with crucial knocks in crunch situations. Talking about batting under high-pressure situations he said, “It’s been good that I have been able to perform in situations when the team requires it. I am happy about it and I would like to continue to do that in the future as well. The pressure is only when you are outside; once you go in [to bat] you know what to do. Whenever I have had a proper plan about what I need to do, I have done well.”

Talking about his plan for today he elaborated, “Today I wanted to stay for some time and later on go for the shots. Because when I went to bat, I could see that the wicket was good to bat on and if I could stay there, then runs will automatically come. So, proper plan was there; that’s why I was able to execute it even well.”

Looking back on the knock he concluded, “The cover drive off Pradeep Sangwan” was his best shot of the innings. 

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