Ian Chappell feels he is ready for international cricket. Others who've seen Unmukt Chand are equally certain about his extraordinary talent. Eric Simons, the Delhi Daredevils coach, was so impressed that after one look at the nets, he declared: "This lad is special."
One quality that sets him apart is his hunger to learn. Unmukt listens carefully and promptly moves to the memory what is worthwhile. This was evident earlier this season during the IPL. At a Daredevils' team dinner, David Warner took Unmukt aside for a chat, a one-on-one between a senior pro and junior player.
Warner spoke about batting (respect the ball but show intent, focus on balance and timing, play to your strengths) and what works for him, small things that make a difference. "Stay involved with the team," said Warner, "don't be afraid to make suggestions to the captain, seek feedback from players, even opposition bowlers."
What stood out was not just Warner's gesture of sharing his experience but Unmukt's response. He hung on to every word that was uttered, listened with undivided attention and, at the right moment, asked the right questions to keep the conversation rolling.
Unmukt is not another bright youngster, who is poised to make the top league. There is no mistaking his special talent: he has the supreme cricketing ability of having time to play and the gift of timing the ball. Plus, the courage to hit it. His start in the IPL was however a sad stutter. In his debut game, he rashly attempted to hoik Lasith Malinga over mid on, only to have his stumps shattered. There was another failure as Shane Warne got one to jump viciously at him. But these turned out to be temporary glitches as the horror start only hardened his resolve.
As a player, he understands the value of playing straight but knows the modern game, especially the 20-over format, is about getting a move on.
Last season in Ranji, he wasted starts by playing too many shots. Obviously, he has sorted out the flaw — his match-winning hundred in the under-19 final contained seven hits that sailed over the boundary ropes.
The writer is a Delhi Daredevils official