There was an ample dose of reflected glory and revenge by proxy in the way we celebrated the under-19 cricket World Cup triumph in Australia. Our seniors, as they polished off New Zealand in Hyderabad in the first Test, followed the action on television as junior skipper Unmukt Chand emulated his senior Delhi teammate Virat Kohli by hitting a match-winning century in the final in Townsville.
The victory — coming against defending champions Australia in their backyard on Sunday — was sweet as the hosts had not lost a game until the final and India were playing in tough conditions. Indian fans in the stadium, around Australia and back home were delighted as they were forced to slip away quietly early this year when the seniors were routed 0-4 in the Test series, ending hopes that India’s golden generation of batsmen would help clinch the team’s maiden series win Down Under. Success at the under-19 level always throws up players who are marked for the future, and it won’t be different this time. Skipper Unmukt Chand, wicket-keeper Smit Patel, all-rounder Baba Aparajith and left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh have all become household names in the last fortnight.
In cricket, it is the right age to demonstrate that one has the potential to go on and succeed at the international level. After all, many players in the squad already play first-class cricket, for their respective Ranji Trophy teams. But many talented juniors have also lost their way or found the going tough at the senior level. Otherwise, there would have been enough young batsmen to edge out our middle order greats like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Vangipurappu Laxman, which has not been the case. So, let us celebrate the moment while hoping that the transition will be smooth for the class of 2012.