The India U-19 cricket team is riding on a high in the ongoing World Cup in New Zealand. Right from the outset of the high-profile event, the Indian team, coached by batting legend Rahul Dravid, has been dishing out one dominant performance after another, the latest being their 203-run hammering of arch-rivals Pakistan in the semi-final.
Among the players who have stood out in the tournament so far is Shubhman Gill. The dashing opener from Firozpur, Punjab, was one of the two heroes from the semi-final drubbing of Pakistan, smashing an unbeaten 102 at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch, helping the side post a daunting 272/9 from 50 overs.
Another young cricketer from Punjab, Abhishek Sharma, later relished the winning moment in the match. The Amritsar-born lad collected the last wicket of the Pakistan innings off just his third delivery, with the first two going for dots, as the opposition were bowled out for a paltry score of 69.
In an exclusive chat with Firstpost, the two Punjab cricketers retrace their road to the World Cup, reminisce their U-14 days when they first crossed paths, share a few interesting anecdotes from the tour so far in a freewheeling chat.
Firstpost: Whose idea was it to smash a cake on coach Rahul Dravid's face?
Abhishek: It's part of the team culture to smash a cake on the person's face on his birthday, and not eat any of it. No matter who the person is — support staff or player.
Firstpost: How did Dravid react after that?
Abhishek: I'm pretty sure he knew it was coming.
Firstpost: What was your first interaction with Dravid like?
Shubhman: He was exactly what we had imagined a legend to be — calm, composed, etc.
Abhishek: Had heard that he's extremely positive (in his demeanour), and he's the one who does the motivational talks the most.
Watch the full interview above to find out more about the two potential Indian cricket superstars.
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The Indian team was initially supposed to land in Brisbane but apparently Queensland state health authorities won't allow the visitors to train during the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.
The BCB chief also ruled out the possibility of shifting the tournament in a foreign land, just like the Indian Premier League which is currently being held closed-doors in the UAE.
Misbah accepted the dual role of head coach and chief selector last year, but he said he wants to focus on coaching the senior Pakistan team.