When Unmukt Chand lifted the Under-19 World Cup in 2012, the Delhi boy was earmarked to follow the footsteps of his predecessor, Virat Kohli, who himself was the Under-19 World Cup winning captain in 2008. Chand was the biggest star for India coming out of that edition held in Australia.
Big things were expected from the opener, however, nine years on Chand has quit playing cricket in India and has made the move to USA, and is playing league cricket there. And his story is a stark, or just quite a simple, reminder that early success does not guarantee anything. You may have shown the spark, but it is imperative for the fire to keep burning to attain prolonged success at the highest level.
It was on this day in 2012 that Chand’s India beat William Bosisto’s Australia to lift the Under-19 World Cup. Chand was not only the captain, but was the best player of the squad, scoring 246 runs in six matches at an average of 49.20. Overall, a certain Babar Azam and Quinton de Kock showed pedigree of the highest order while Bangladesh’s Anamul Haque was the highest scorer of the competition. He would go on to represent Bangladesh national team in all three formats.
Among bowlers, future England international Reece Topley claimed the maximum 19 wickets from six games. It is quite interesting to look back and analyse who all from the top run-getters and wicket-takers list eventually made a mark in international cricket. Unfortunately, not many. From that successful Indian squad, only two players have went on to represent India at the highest level so far. Here is a look at all the members of the squad, their cricketing journey and where they are now:
Unmukt Chand (Captain)
In what-could-have-been story of Indian cricket, Chand never was able to live up to his potential and early success. He had scored a match-winning 111* in the final of the competition but had meagre returns in the domestic circuit. In 67 First-class games he managed 3379 runs at 31.57, in 121 List-A games he scored 4507 runs at 41.34.
In T20s, Chand struggled and averaged only 1565 runs at 22.35 with a strike-rate of 116.09. In the IPL, he played 21 games scoring 300 runs and represented Delhi Daredevils, Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians. Last year, he moved to Uttarakhand after not finding a place in Delhi’s Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Earlier this year, Chand took retirement from Indian cricket and announced that he will be playing league cricket in the USA.
Akshdeep Nath (Vice-Captain)
Akshdeep had a poor tournament, managing just 46 runs in six matches and even though he made his domestic debut same year, it took him further five years to cement his place in the Uttar Pradesh state side. The Lucknow-born is now a regular fixture for UP and has even captained the side. At 28, Akshdeep is nowhere in the radar for international selection, but the middle-order batsman has been quite steady in domestic cricket, averaging over 40 in both FC and List A formats with 10 centuries to his name in both combined. In the IPL, he has been part of Gujarat Lions, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab.
Another highly rated player as a teenager, Aparajith has so far failed to live up to his billing, but has been consistent in the domestic circuit for a while now. In 78 FC games he has scored 3952 runs at 38.36 and taken 46 wickets at 44.45. In List-A games, he has 3104 runs at 43.71 and 50 wickets at 29.28. He has been part of Rising Pune Supergiant and Chennai Super Kings setup, but is yet to make his IPL debut.
The Himachal Pradesh opener had a decent outing in the tournament scoring three fifties and has went on to become one of the vital cogs for his state side. Not much of a T20 player, Chopra has been part of the Rajasthan Royals setup and has played two IPL matches. A wicketkeeper by trade, Chopra is also a handy bowler. In 56 FC games he has 3535 runs at 40.63 with a best score of 338 and had gone on to represent India representational sides as well. In 80 List A games, he has scored 2789 runs at 38.20 with six centuries and 12 fifties. In 48 T20 games, Chopra has scored 1389 runs at 34.72 with the help of nine fifties.
The Mumbai off spinner was also among the few who was rated highly for his skills, even earning comparisons to the legendary Bishen Singh Bedi for the enviable loop in his deliveries and he was one of the star performers for India in the competition claiming six wickets in four matches at an economy of 3.02. He had a fantastic FC debut taking a seven-wicket match haul but fell out of favour of the selectors the following year. Later he ran into disciplinary issues and his name also came up during the IPL match-fixing saga of 2013 when a bookie alleged that he tried to contact the bowler. He was later cleared by the BCCI.
The youngest of that squad, Herwadkar did not a get a game in the tournament. He would later go on to debut for Mumbai playing 38 FC matches scoring 2399 runs at 37.48. In List-A he has scored 874 runs at 34.96. He was a part of Delhi Daredevils in 2016.
The fast bowling allrounder from Gujarat played just one game in the tournament. He has gone on to become one of the key players for Gujarat over the years since his domestic debut in 2012. In 54 FC matches he has scored 1720 runs and taken 168 wickets. In List A he has 260 runs to his name in 46 matches and has claimed 66 wickets. In T20s, he has 37 wickets to his name, but is yet to earn an IPL contract. He has also been selected for India A.
Passi was one of India’s leading fast bowlers in the competition and returned 10 wickets but did not translate that potential into domestic cricket in India. He played only four FC matches and one List A before walking away from the game. Despite playing in the 2012 U19 WC, Passi made his domestic debut three years later in 2015-16 season, playing just two games, followed by two more in the next.
Smit Patel (Wicketkeeper)
Smit Patel scored 168 runs in six matches during the tournament and played a crucial role in the final alongside Unmukt Chand, returning with an average of 59. He had a solid FC debut for Gujarat scoring 510 runs in eight matches at 36.42, but lack of game time in subsequent seasons, owing mainly to the direct competition to Parthiv Patel in the Gujarat side as top-order wicketkeeper batsman, Patel moved to Tripura for two seasons, then to Goa for a solitary one and finally to Baroda for the 2020-21 season. Earlier this year, Patel announced his retirement from Indian cricket and moved to USA to play Minor League Cricket.
Ravikant Singh was India’s joint highest wicket-taker in the competition claiming 12 wickets at an average of 14.91 and best figures of 5/21. However, he played only one List A game for Bengal against India B in 2012 and then featured in a T20I in 2019.
Sharma played two Under19 World Cups for India – the 2012 being his second one – and impressed with his swing claiming 12 wickets at 15.75 in six matches. He went on to debut for Punjab the same season and was picked up by Kings XI Punjab in the IPL. A regular feature for KXIP, Sharma was the first player from the batch to represent India when he was picked for the Zimbabwe series in 2015, playing two T20Is. He claimed one wicket giving away 73 runs in the process. He never played for India again. In the IPL, Sharma became a reliable asset for KXIP and SRH and has played 95 matches in the league, claiming 110 wickets at 25.04.
Right-arm medium fast Sandipan Das did not get a game in the competition but made his FC debut for Bengal in 2013 and went on to play 8 FC games, 4 List –A games and 3 T20Is. His last game in domestic circuit was in 2015.
Vihari, middle-order batsman, played all six games for India but had a terrible outing managing just 71 runs at 11.83. However, he soon reinvented himself as the backbone of the Hyderabad side and then Andhra. He consistently knocked the selection doors with big runs season after season and by the time he made his India debut at the age of 24 in 2018, he was averaging nearly 60 in first-class cricket. With 289 runs in four innings in the West Indies, Vihari proved his worth at the international level. He had compiled a nervy half-century on his debut at the Oval in 2018. In 12 Test, Vihari has scored 624 runs at 32.84.
Left-arm orthodox Mishra played three games for India in the competition claiming two wickets. He had represented Delhi much before the 2012 World Cup, having made his FC debut in 2009. But he has so far played only 44 FC matches claiming 158 wickets across 12 seasons. He has played only 9 List-A games, last of which coming in 2012, while his two of his T20 games came in 2011 and 2019
A classy and aggressive middle-order batsman, Zol was reportedly the first choice to lead the side before Chand was chosen as skipper. Zol had a decent outing scoring 151 runs in six matches at 25.16. It would take him one more year to make his FC debut and with an eye catching season he made heads turn. He scored 665 runs in 11 matches at an average of 47. However, after that season, he has managed to play only 4 more FC games – three of which coming in 2014-15 season and one in the 2018-19 season. He was also signed up by Royal Challengers Bangalore and played three games for the Red and Black.