Play now, ribbons can wait
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Yes, Unmukt Chand won India the under-19 World Cup. No, that doesn't make him the next Virat Kohli. Or even a Mohammad Kaif for that matter. Yes, the event needs to be celebrated. But no, there isn't a need to get carried away. Please.
Unmukt, a boy much desired by the media these days, seems to have been guaranteed access to instant celebritydom, but under-rating the standard of international cricket just to accommodate banal comparisons with battle-hardened players is just unabashedly disgraceful.
Let's get a few facts straight first. Only at the under-19 level, global as it may be, has Unmukt followed on Kohli and Kaif's path. On the first-class circuit — a far better judge of human character and cricketing acumen — he is yet to even cement his place in the Delhi side, with just 11 games under his belt.
The ones who made it to the top after making a splash at the under-xyz levels are exceptions to the rule; not the rule itself. There have been plenty, as promising as Unmukt if not more, who have vanished once the jump from age-group to first-class was made. Here, the margins of error are far lesser. Here, simple catches (en route to an unbeaten ton in a final) are hardly ever put down twice.
Kohli and Kaif, like the few who did last the distance following their age-group triumphs, spent several hard months and years toiling away in the nurseries of the unspoken before they were even allowed a sniff at the big league. Days after participating in the junior World Cup, they immediately attended camps — like the ongoing India A one at the NCA that Unmukt is selected for, but isn't yet a part of. (Thanks to the never-ending felicitations.)
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