India colts aim to stay champs

U-19 team leaves for WC in Dubai

India colts aim to stay champs

 High on confidence after stacking up four series wins, defending under-19 World Cup champions India look for an encore of their performance in Australia where Unmukt Chand and company emerged champions in 2012.

In the run-up to the biennial event to be held in the UAE from February 14, India, led by Vijay Zol, have played four tournaments in Australia, Sri Lanka, Visakhapatnam and the UAE. In the Top End series Down Under, they defeated Australia in the final and then handed a 2-0 loss to Sri Lanka in a short series. This was followed by their victory in a triangular series in Visakhapatnam where they humbled South Africa in the final before topping off their campaign with a victory in the U-19 Asia Cup, beating Pakistan in the final.

Archrivals Pakistan will be first up for India on Feb 15 at Dubai. “To us what has been really helpful is, we’re always going to respect the opposition first,” said coach Bharat Arun at the departure eve press conference here on Friday. “The fact that we’ve played Pakistan earlier in the Asia cup – the first match was very close -- and in the final, we won pretty convincingly. So, we draw a lot of confidence from that game but the approach will be like any other game,” remarked Arun who oversaw an intense preparatory camp at the National Cricket Academy. 

Zol said playing Pakistan was a different ball game. “They’re in good position as an Under-19 team, they’ve played well together as a unit. But, as a team, we’ll look at them as just another game. We’ll concentrate on the processes, and not the results. We’re not going to look at them, we’re worried about ourselves and how well we perform every time we step on to the field. We’re concentrating on that more than anything,” he reasoned.

As defending champions, Arun felt, there’s definitely going to be pressure. “Heading into a major tournament like this (pressure will be there). The challenge is to conquer the pressure that you’re going to face. We set the processes in the boot camp for the clarity of role – each one has to understand his role in the team – and we’ve set the process to achieve those goals. More focus on the process would take you away from the pressure. That’s what we concentrated on.”

Further dwelling on the boot camp at Waynad in Kerala, Arun said: “We did a lot of team building activities. The boys went on their own, everyone together, to formulate the most important aspects you need to do well in the World Cup. We had rappelling and trust walk and things like that, which help you in a non-cricket environment where you need to focus more on the process and trust the leader.”

That the team has been together for over a year now is its biggest plus. “I guess, you begin to understand that more than the sport, you need to understand each other,” noted Arun. “They see the other side of a player, and more than anything else, we’ve always had the policy of never looking at the outcome. We’re going to enjoy playing together, enjoying being together and enjoy doing things together and I guess we’re going to carry the same thing on the field. That is the focus of the entire camp.”

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