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Focus and stay cool, boys

Playing the under-19 World Cup is fun. Last time, in Bangladesh, when I was part of the Colts team that went onto play the semi-finals, it was one great experience.

india Updated: Feb 05, 2006 04:55 IST

Playing the under-19 World Cup is fun. Last time, in Bangladesh, when I was part of the Colts team that went onto play the semi-finals, it was one great experience.

And it wasn't just because I got the best-batsman award -- I had 505 runs with three centuries, the most by any batsman in the tournament - but also because of the camaraderie in the team.

It was so different from the high-voltage affair that we experience at the higher level. Not that it was easy playing at that level.

Of course, there were matches to be won, battles to be fought, but being of the same age helped us to gel really well not just on the field but also off the field.

Coach, Robin Singh was like a father figure for all of us and he was instrumental in bringing about such a team spirit amongst us. We went out for regular team dinners and also had as much fun as we could.

The tournament itself was pretty successful for us. That we had a successful beginning was helped by the confidence we gathered after crushing Australia in a preparatory series. In the World Cup, we started with a big win against Scotland and I got 150-odd. Thereafter, it was a great run. Although we went down to Pakistan in the semi-finals, there were moments when we thought we could have pulled the match off. I would like to add here that contrary to common perception , playing at that level isn't easy. After all, you just don't know the opposition at all. However, if you are intelligent enough, that can work in your favour too!

At the first-class level, the players you are playing have been around playing on those pitches and playing the same players. Honestly, in some time, the players get to know everyone in the opposition quite well.

I'll remain upset for the fact that we could not lift the World Cup because we had a strong chance. We could have easily won there had we scored a few more runs and the fact I fell for 12, left me disappointed. I wish the current team plays really well and do what we couldn't. My advive to them is stay relaxed and be cool friends. In the last World Cup, I had shared rooms, first with VRV Singh who is from Punjab and then with Dinesh Kaarthick, who is from Tamil Nadu.

(As told to Khurram Habib)

First Published: Feb 05, 2006 04:55 IST