Harmeet Singh recalls glory days of 2012
U-19 World Cup star remembers how the team was well looked after by Indian families in Australia
It’s only a year since India won the ICC under-19 World Cup in Townsville, Australia. That memories of the triumph are so fresh should come as no surprise, but someone actually writing a book on the win should considering India is not a country that is big on tour books no matter how memorable and successful.
Sydney-based Indian, Gaurav Joshi had his book Teen Thunder Down Under released by Balvinder Singh Sandhu and Praveen Amre at the Mumbai Press Club on Saturday evening. Joshi reported on the tournament for MiD DAY.
Alongwith the two former India players, was Harmeet Singh, the left-arm spinner who made such an impression in last year’s tournament that Ian Chappell felt he was like spin legend Bishan Singh Bedi in many ways. Harmeet and captain Unmukt Chand were the two players who impressed the former Australia captain turned commentator.
Amre was a member of the India under-19 team to Australia in 1981 while Sandhu managed a youth team to New Zealand a decade ago and they fully appreciated the fact that Chand’s team conquered conditions and opposition to reign supreme.
India beat Pakistan en route to glory and Sandhu was at pains to explain how beating the neighbours is never easy because of the pressure they exert on their opposition even off the field. Amre had no doubt that India’s future is in safe hands and the under-19 level is a critical part of a journey. Sandhu established the fact that boys will be boys with a yarn about what happened in between practice games in Australia before the under-19 World Cup at New Zealand 2002 when he was coach. “Dilip Vengsarkar was with the team as consultant. One night, Dilip went down from his hotel room to make a phone call and found the team in the lobby. ‘What are you all doing here,’ he asked. He soon discovered they were all set to visit the beach and soak in the Australian culture.”
Harmeet Singh sitting nearby had a chuckle and later spoke about how he and his 2012 teammates were well looked after by the Indian families in Townsville. “The people of Townsville were really kind. It was like a reunion for us. We always felt at home. I was sick for three to four days and sadly had to miss two matches. But they cooked ‘Dal-Chawal’ for me. It was a homely atmosphere.”
Harmeet indicated that the loss to Pakistan in the quarter-finals at the 2010 World Cup played a role in his motivation to get it right and end up winning. The young Sikh batted with Sandeep Sharma to help India win by one wicket after a spell of 10-1-20-1.
Joshi recalled how the team’s liaison manager Jason despite being an Australian, wore an India t’shirt on the day of the final against Australia. According to Harmeet, Jason is now his manager. The book release function was also attended by former India pacer Abey Kuruvilla, who was the chairman of the selection committee which picked the under-19 team.