It really pays to be Unmukt Chand these days as he discovers that Delhi Daredevils’ star players like Kevin Pietersen, Mahela Jayawardene, Morne Morkel have enough time to discuss cricketing matters with the Indian sensation.
“You really feel confident when you have a session with someone like Kevin Pietersen. I had an elaborate session in Pertoria where he gave me some valuable tips on technique,” Unmukt revealed during an interaction with PTI from Durban.
“I was trying to hit every ball out of sight and KP told me not to do that as I wasn’t shaping up correctly. He told me that unlike in India where one can accelerate in a T20 game from the first ball, it’s not possible in South Africa. He advised that since I will bat up the order, I should be cautious during the initial phase and then start attacking. I should check my shape while trying to play attacking shots,” stated the former India U-19 captain who got a chance to pick the star batsman’s brains.
If he got Pietersen to talk on batting, his skipper Mahela Jayawardene gave him a compliment after KKR match that he would remember for a long time to come.
“Mahela told me that under circumstances, my innings was one of the best in T20 that he has seen. It was indeed a proud moment when something like this comes from a player of his stature.”
“And Morne has started calling me a ‘Legend’ and pats my back whenever he gets a chance,” he laughs.
The six Unmukt hit off Jacques Kallis’ bowling during a Champions League Twenty20 match was a “special one” and he feels that it got him the momentum.
“Hitting Kallis for a six was special. It was right there in my slot and I timed it really well. The six gave me the momentum to build an innings,” he added.
New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor was a constant source of encouragement during that partnership.
“Ross was telling me to concentrate on singles and twos and try to hang in for as long as possible. When all these players share pearls of wisdom, it feels that I am on the right track. Two years ago when I joined Daredevils, I didn’t know that I could chat and discuss cricket with them at length. But it has sunk in and I feel it’s normal now.”
A lot of Indian batsmen have struggled on the bouncy South African strips but Unmukt admits that two tours of Australia (with the U-19 team) and his ‘A’ team tour of New Zealand has increased his confidence of tackling fast bowlers in these conditions.
“The conditions in South Africa are pretty similar to what I encountered in Australia and New Zealand, so it has been easier to adapt.”