A very happy Ravikant Singh on his arrival in Calcutta. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
“Bittu, there is a call for you,” cried out Ravikant Singh’s brother Rishikant as the 18-year-old took one of the innumerable calls flooding his sibling’s mobile since the memorable U-19 World Cup win Down Under. This time, it was t2 at the other end!
You just turned 18 this March and five months later, you are a World Cup winner. Does it all seem unreal?
Yeah… it feels like a dream. When I had gone there, I barely had any idea about what was going to happen. After the win when we came back, so many people came to greet us at the airport. Kaafi achha lag raha hai! For me, I first wanted to make a place in the team and once I had a place, I wanted to bowl well. Team ko jitana hai… bas yahi tha!
What is it like getting famous overnight? Is the rise in expectations a pressure and something that is difficult to handle at 18?
Achha lag raha hai… everybody wants my autograph. Kaafi bheer jami hai ghar mein. They are appreciating and asking me how the win feels. There is a little bit of pressure because of all the expectations, but then I have the prayers of so many people with me to do well. I will perform to the best of my abilities for them!
How has life changed in the last four days?
Life toh kaafi change ho gaya hai abhi… before the World Cup, nobody knew me or there wasn’t much appreciation. Ever since I have come back, everybody recognises me.
Did the huge reception back home make you emotional?
I wasn’t emotional (laughs)… but I was meeting my parents after a long time… so yes, was a bit emotional!
Rewind for us the last 15 days... the highs and the lows...
I joined the team later, but the bonding was great. I was told not to take too much pressure about my bowling even if I have a bad spell. Our coach and support staff were very supportive. Though we lost the first match against West Indies, we did not lose belief. The biggest challenge was the quarter-final against Pakistan. Throughout we fought like a group and so the challenges didn’t seem too daunting.
| A jubilant Unmukt post the World Cup victory
You have said your captain had a lot of faith in you…
He has played the IPL and also Ranji Trophy. So, he is a lot more experienced. If there was one bad ball or a couple of fours in an over, he would stand at mid-off and tell us to concentrate on the rest of the deliveries … kafi achha banda hai… genuine! We treated the finals as just another match… the more pressure you take, the more negative you get. We thought of playing dum laga ke! We did not lose hope. Hum logon ko pata tha ke Unmukt Chand aaj khelney wala hai.
Describe for us the winning moment.
Dressing room mein champagne nahin tha, Pepsi khol ke nahaye wahin pe! Samne jo mila usey bhi naha diye humlog! After we won, we went to an Indian restaurant for dinner and the Punjabis over there came with dhols and we danced a lot!
You were India’s highest wicket-taker along with Sandeep Sharma (12 wickets). What has it done to your self-confidence?
I did not think that I would be the highest wicket-taker, but feels great that I did it for India.
Tell us about the session with Sachin Tendulkar.
Sachinpaji told us that if we want to win, we have to play as a team. This was the first time I was meeting Sachin Tendulkar… cricket ke bhagwan is shaking hands with me and our photographs are being clicked… it was great!
Who is Ravikant’s support system at home? Mummy! She was always very positive… if I would get one wicket, she would say next time you will take three!
What happens next?
I am concentrating on Ranji Trophy… Ranji khelne ke baad hi IPL milega aur IPL ke baad hi India milega!
Favourite medium pacers... current and all-time: Ishant Sharma and Brett Lee
Favourite cricketer: Virat Kohli
One batsman I would love to bowl to: Sachin Tendulkar
One delivery I love bowling: Yorker
Favourite cricket grounds: Perth and Wankhede Stadium
Favourite IPL team: KKR
Favourite actress: Priyanka Chopra
Favourite actor: Shah Rukh Khan
Last film watched: Ek Tha Tiger
Last song liked: Munni badnam hui
Who is the busiest 19-year-old in Delhi right now? No prizes for guessing this one. It’s got to be Unmukt Chand, India’s U-19 World Cup winning captain. t2 finally managed to pin him down for a 10-minute chat way past 10pm last Thursday.
First, the U-19 Quadrangular Series in April and now the U-19 World Cup... you are on a golden streak as a captain!
It feels great getting the World Cup back home. Our hard work has paid off. We have been working hard for the past two years and I am very happy that we could get the Cup home.
Did defending the title add to the pressure? Did you speak to Virat Kohli, the winning captain of 2008, before you left?
I did not speak to Virat before the tournament regarding the World Cup. There was no pressure.... We just wanted to do well and we were really confident of ourselves and we wanted to win it for the country.
| Unmukt with the World Cup trophy
At a time when India vs Australia is considered to be the new Ashes, it must be really satisfying to beat the Oz twice in a row!
Yeah it is! We had visualised playing Australia in Australia in the finals and beating them. So, it is a dream come true and I am really happy about it. The way the team has played has been superb!
After all, your BBM status was “I can feel the Cup in my hands”!
I am really happy that I got the 100 (111 not out) when the team needed it the most and that I could make it count that day. I am really happy that it helped and we could win the finals and the whole team’s hard work has paid off. We were very confident that we could do it. We were the one’s who owned that Cup and there was a strong belief in all of us that we could do it. That made it even easier.
You are turning out to be quite a big match player. How do you prepare yourself before the big days? Is Mahendra Singh Dhoni an inspiration?
I have been able to contribute when the team needed it. I’m really happy about it and I hope I can do it in the future as well. Hmmm… he (Dhoni) has been a great inspiration. He has done it so many times for the country… finished off matches. He is calm under pressure.
You were also India’s highest run-getter (246 from six matches). How do you balance captaincy and your own batting?
I try to keep the two separate. While I am batting, I don’t think about captaincy and when I am not batting… when I am fielding… only then am I a captain.
How much of an inspiration was that talk by Sachin Tendulkar in July? Of all that he said, what has stayed with you?
First of all hard work and secondly, when you are under pressure the best thing is to mingle with the players and enjoy each other’s company.
How much of an impact will this win have on your self-confidence as a captain and a batsman?
Immense! It was a great learning experience for me. We also shared some superb moments with each other. How to handle pressure… it will help us in the future as well…
You are also writing a book!
I am just compiling my diaries… trying to frame it into a book regarding the whole World Cup journey. I am still working on it.