Salute the resilience, positive attitude of U-19 players: NCA chief Laxman

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Former India cricketer and the current head of the National Cricket Academy (NCA), VVS Laxman, saluted the “resilience” and “positive attitude” of the U-19 India cricket team after they defeated England by four wickets to lift the U-19 ICC Cricket World Cup for the fifth time on Sunday night (IST).

The Indian cricket team was hit by COVID-19, with five players, including skipper Yash Dhull and vice-captain Shaik Rasheed, testing positive just after the opening group match and forced to isolate for more than 10 days. But the team kept the momentum going despite their top players missing to maintain an all-win record in the group stage.

And when Dhull and Rasheed returned for the quarterfinal against 2020 champions Bangladesh, the team virtually took off, thrashing Australia in the semifinals to secure a berth in the final. Laxman, who is in the Caribbean guiding the team, congratulated the selection committee and the coaches for the historic win.

“Huge congratulation to the selection committee, because it was a new selection committee and it was quite challenging for them to identify this group and after that I thought the coaching staff with Hrishikesh (Kantikar) as the head coach, Sairaj Bahutule and Munish Bali and all the support staff, I think the way they brought this group together, they worked really hard.

“They won the Asia Cup and the preparation to this World Cup was fantastic. But in the middle of this tournament, we all know what happened to the boys to test positive, but to show that kind of resilience and positive attitude was just exemplary,” said Laxman.

While complementing the Indian cricket board for laying emphasis on age-group tournaments, Laxman said the win was special as the boys hadn’t played any tournament in the last two years due to the pandemic.

“I think BCCI has to be complemented the number of matches. the number of tournaments, each age group level players get to play, whether it’s under 16, whether it’s under 19, under 23. But unfortunately, over the last two years, because of COVID. They didn’t play any tournament and that’s why I think this tournament win is very special,” Laxman said.

Laxman termed the win as a learning process in the long journey of a professional cricketer.

“It’s important, but I think this is just a learning process, this is just a start of the journey and everyone in this group understands that, because this is all about their development as players as persons, and it’s great to see the way they have developed, the way they’ve evolved over the last couple of months and so it’s very exciting times for all of them, but it’s just the start of the journey as a cricketer.”

Player of the Match, Raj Bawa said that it felt nice to contribute to every win in the tournament, adding that the victory in the final was very special.

“It always feels great to contribute for the team in any match, but in a final it is very special.” He said he would like to keep contributing with both the bat and the ball.

“I like to do both (bowl and bat),” he added.

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