3 players from India's U19 squad in 2012 who now play in the USA ft. Unmukt Chand 

Unmukt Chand led India to the 2012 U-19 World Cup [Getty Images]
Unmukt Chand led India to the 2012 U-19 World Cup [Getty Images]

On this day (August 26) eleven years ago, Team India clinched the ICC U19 World Cup 2012 when they beat Australia by six wickets in the final in Townsville. It proved to be India's third title win at the U-19 level after Mohammed Kaif (2000) and Virat Kohli (2008) led the team to the silverware previously.

The Men in Blue started their campaign in 2012 on a losing note against the West Indies but then went on a five-game winning streak before finally beating the Aussies in the ultimate clash.

Australia, who were the hosts as well, batted first and piled up 225/8 in the first innings. Chasing 226, India found themselves in a spot of bother when they were reduced to 97/4 at the halfway point.

Skipper Unmkut Chand and Smit Patel, however, then steadied the ship for India and put up an unbeaten stand of 130 runs to guide their nation to the World Cup. Chand made 111* off 130 balls and was adjudged the Player of the Match in the finals.

While the Indian U-19 team that year boasted a lot of quality, none of them went on to dominate international cricket. Hanuma Vihari and Sandeep Sharma were the only two players to get a chance to represent the nation afterwards.

While many players from the 2012 U-19 batch still play at the domestic level in India, a few of them have opted to ply their trade in the United States, where the cricket bandwagon is still in its nascent stage.

On the occasion of the 11th anniversary of India's win at the 2012 U-19 World Cup, we take a look at three of those players who now play in the USA but were part of the Indian team when they won the ICC tournament in 2012.

#1 Unmkut Chand

Unmukt Chand during his Big Bash League stint [Getty]
Unmukt Chand during his Big Bash League stint [Getty]

Unmukt Chand was destined to have a bright future after he led India to the U-19 World Cup in 2012. However, poor form and failure to capitalise on his opportunities saw him dwindle his chances of getting into the national team.

The Delhi-born lad played for three different Indian Premier League (IPL) teams but failed to stamp his authority as he could only make 300 runs at an average of 15.00 across 20 IPL innings.

In 2021, Chand decided to announce his retirement from Indian cricket to participate in overseas T20 leagues like the Big Bash League (BBL) and Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).

In the recently concluded inaugural edition of the Major League Cricket (MLC), the 30-year-old plied his trade for the Los Angeles Knight Riders (LAKR). The right-handed batter played four matches in MLC, where he scored only 68 runs at an average of 17. He could not touch the 30-run mark in any innings, while his strike rate was 97.14.

Chand dreams of playing international cricket for the USA. He will be eligible to play for the United States from 2024 onwards.

#2 Smit Patel

Smit Patel during the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2012 Final. [Getty Images]
Smit Patel during the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2012 Final. [Getty Images]

Smit Patel is another player who did extremely well in the finals against Australia in 2012 but didn't get an opportunity to play for India. The Gujarat-born wicket-keeper batter scored a fighting 62-run knock in the finals.

Patel's transition to the senior Gujarat team wasn't easy after the highs of the U-19 World Cup victory. He earned a spot on the senior team by participating in U-22 cricket. He was still Gujarat's backup wicketkeeper, though, simply due to the presence of Parthiv Patel.

In search of more matches as a wicketkeeper-batsman, Patel became a journeyman in domestic cricket. He played for Gujarat, Tripura, Goa, and Baroda in the Ranji Trophy.

However, in 2021, the 30-year-old announced his decision to retire from all forms of cricket under the Board of Cricket for Control in India (BCCI) to play international cricket for the USA. While he is yet to make his international debut for the USA, Patel was part of the San Francisco Unicorns franchise in the MLC.

#3 Harmeet Singh

Harmeet Singh is another winner of the U19 World Cup in 2012 who later decided to move to the United States of America in search of fresh cricketing pastures.

The left-arm spinner, who was once touted to be the next Bishan Singh Bedi, retired to play under the BCCI and signed a three-year deal to play for the Seattle Orcas in the MLC in 2021.

Harmeet Singh made his Ranji Trophy debut for Mumbai in 2009. In 31 first-class games, the wiry left-arm spinner has bagged 87 wickets at 34.18 while scoring 733 runs, including a century.

Harmeet, who is now a resident of the USA, is keen to take advantage of the opportunity. He aspires to realise his dream of representing his chosen country in international cricket. The 30-year-old is currently part of the Robin Uthappa-led Atlanta Riders franchise at the ongoing US Masters T10 League.

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