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The forgotten champions: What happened to India’s U19 WC winners of 2012?

by Sarah Waris 6 minute read

Nine years after the Indian U19 team led by Unmukt Chand won the World Cup in Townsville, we take a look at how the winning XI has fared since.

Over the years, a number of U19 players have risen through the ranks and translated their success for India in international cricket. Cricketers such as Virat Kohli, Washington Sundar, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, and Prithvi Shaw have been the breakout stars, who have emerged from the under-19 set-up.

However, the batch of 2012, who won the U19 World Cup, have been unlucky in that regard, with only two players from the squad going on to play for India. Despite the presence of a number of talented players, including skipper Unmukt Chand, the side did not taste much success individually. With Smit Patel recently leaving India to play for the USA, we take a look at players from the team who featured in the final against Australia.

Unmukt Chand

The leading run-scorer of the tournament, Chand was touted as the future star, as comparisons with Kohli did the rounds. The batsman, who scored 111 in the final and guided his team to the title, has played 67 FC games, averaging 31.57, and 120 List A matches, where he averaged 41.33. Inconsistent returns for his state Delhi meant that he was not given many chances and he decided to turn up for Uttarakhand. However, he did not taste much success for his new side as well and did not play any game in either the Vijay Hazare Trophy or Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy earlier this year.

In the IPL, Chand has thus far scored 300 runs in 21 games. He featured for DCW Sluggers in the USA, but denied having signed any contract to feature in cricket in the country.

Prashant Chopra

The player has one of the best batting averages from the U19 batch. After 56 FC games for Himachal Pradesh, Prashant averages 40.63 with a high score of 338. He was picked up by Rajasthan Royals in 2018 courtesy of his knock, but has made only two IPL appearances thus far. However, Prashant continues to be one of the stalwarts of domestic cricket and has represented the India A team as well.

Baba Aparajith

The all-rounder from Tamil Nadu had scored a fine 51 against Pakistan in the quarterfinal in 2012, with his temperament getting considerable praise. He remains a crucial player in his state domestic teams, with over 3,000 runs in both FC and List A formats. He scored 217 runs in this year’s Vijay Hazare Trophy, but his returns not been able to earn him an IPL debut.

Hanuma Vihari

The only player from the U19 batch of 2012 who has played a Test match for India, Vihari had to grit it out in the domestic set-up before an international call-up came his way. The right-hander has churned out plenty of runs in FC cricket, scoring over 7,000 runs with 21 tons at an average of nearing 55. The Andhra player is now gearing up for the World Test Championship final.

Vijay Zol

The player, who was only 17 when the team won the under-19 World Cup, also captained the side two years later. In 2014, he was picked up by Royal Challengers Bangalore but did not get a chance. He has not played any domestic game for Maharashtra since 2019 after inconsistent returns in all formats. With the emergence of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ankit Bawne, chances of a comeback look grim.

Smit Patel

The player stitched together a crucial 130-run stand with Chand for the fifth wicket against Australia in 2012 World Cup. He did have a great start to domestic cricket for Gujarat but his fortunes started dwindling. He played for a number of teams, including Baroda, Goa, and Tripura, but was unable to replicate his initial form. Smit has now retired from all forms of cricket under the BCCI to play for the USA. He will represent Barbados Trident in the Caribbean Premier League later this year.

Akshdeep Nath

Nath did not have the best tournament in 2012 but did not let it affect his performance as he went on to impress in domestic cricket. Playing for Uttar Pradesh, Nath top-scored in the 2018/19 Ranji season with 727 runs, and was rewarded with the captaincy of the side in the following season. He continues to play Ranji Trophy, and was the highest run-scorer for his team in the Vijay Hazare this year, where he ended with 387 runs at an average of 55.28 with five fifties in eight games.

Harmeet Singh

The bowler picked up six wickets in the tournament in 2012 but got mixed up in a match-fixing scandal later, for which he was later cleared. Since then, Harmeet is without an IPL contract, and his domestic numbers have dwindled of late too. He shifted to Tripura after his stint with Mumbai did not result in much success. Though he picked up 87 scalps in 55 innings with four five-fors, stiff competition meant that he had to switch states.

Kamal Passi

The pacer had picked up 6-23 against Zimbabwe in the 2012 U19 edition but soon disappeared from limelight after the tournament. He played just four FC games, picking up five scalps, and has not played any domestic game since 2016.

Ravikant Singh

The fast bowler got a lot of movement with the new ball, and ended the edition as the leading wicket-taker of India, with 12 wickets. He soon made his List A debut — for Bengal against India B the same year — but did not play any more matches. His first and only T20 appearance was in 2019 when he played for Bengal against Assam, where he picked up 2-31.

Sandeep Sharma

The pace bowler picked up four wickets in the finals against Australia and has been the only player from the batch who is a constant fixture in the IPL. He has also represented India in T20 Internationals and has been a mainstay for Punjab in domestic cricket over the years.

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