Manjot Kalra's match-winning ton in the final made him a hero. The India U-19 opener, who was sold to Delhi Daredevils in IPL auction 2018, had mixed emotions after the U19 World Cup win. Kalra said they will miss each other's company in coming days.
“We’ve bonded very well and we’ll all miss each other quite a lot. That’s the best thing about this team. Hopefully, we all meet in the senior team, but it’ll be difficult for all of us to meet together even if we’re at a camp or something like that,” said Kalra.
Manjot scored 101* off 102 balls which included 8 fours and 3 sixes. That helped India to ensure a victory without a fuss. He rated his innings as personal “best”. “A World Cup final winning knock, and that too a hundred, is a big deal. I think it’s my best knock so far, I’ll definitely remember it for a while,” he added.
Kalra had a good opportunity to convert the start he got against Pakistan into a big inning. He had scored 47 against them in the semifinal. “I felt bad at the time. I just made sure I could do better when I got the chance. Thankfully, I got the chance in a final, and I made use of the opportunity,” said Kalra. “It was really a great moment, but we enjoyed a lot while batting.”
India lost their star batsman Shubman Gill early in the final. That would have given the Aussies a chance to comeback in the match. But Kalra taking care of one end helped India a lot. “When Shubman came out to bat, we talked and he asked me to play my natural strokes. When he got out, I knew I would have to finish the game. So I told Harvik (Desai) the same thing, that he’ll play the singles and then later on, try and hit. He took time to settle, but after that he scored a lot runs. I knew I needed to take charge of the game, and that if I got out, the new batsmen would have a problem settling in,” he said.
India U-19 have done well under head coach Rahul Dravid and Kalra praised Dravid too. “He told us how to attack and pace the innings. He told us to stick to our abilities and that we would be able to chase the score easily."
Kalra said that the wicket in the New Zealand was a bit easy to bat. “The wickets here are quite flat, as in the ball comes on to the bat quite nicely. Both batsmen and bowlers get something from the wicket.”
Though Kalra is used to huge crowds from his local tournament days, but this, he confessed, was the biggest. “I’ve played in front of decent crowds in local tournaments. Many people used to come for these matches, you know how crazy Indians are about cricket. But this was something else. I knew a lot of Indians would come to watch.”
The IPL is the next big stage for the Delhi boy. He will be representing Delhi Daredevils. “I’ll go and play my natural game, and it will come off, sometimes it may not. I’ll have to go and practice in that format. If I make an IPL debut — I don’t know if it’ll happen or not — but I’ll be nervous. I’ll see about it then,” he added.