Exclusive: New U19 captain Vijay Zol is battle ready for Down Under
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"I was sitting with friends in a room and talking about the team and the combination. One of my friends got a SMS from somewhere that I had been appointed as the captain. It was a moment of sheer joy and reward for hours and hours of hard work. I had no words at the moment, was very happy," an ecstatic Zol told The Indian Express in an exclusive conversation.
Australia didn't turn out to be a happy hunting ground for the Maharashtra run-machine in 2012 as the left-hander, under Unmukt Chand's captaincy in the ICC U19 World Cup, could only manage 151 runs in six matches. A lot of hopes were pinned on the elegant southpaw after his monumental 451-run knock in the Cooch Behar Trophy in 2011 and a great show in the U19 Asia Cup (2012), but somehow things didn't go the way he would have liked.
After boarding the flight back home with the stars of the tournament – Unmukt Chand and Harmeet Singh – even Zol wouldn't have thought that he'll get another go to get his share of pie. The triumph last year was anchored by some brilliant individual performances, but consistent contributions were scarce. Captain Zol, oozing with excitement, points out on the balance in the team to play the tri-series featuring India, New Zealand and Australia.
"We are a very well balanced team. There are quality spinners, batsmen and fast bowlers in our ranks. We have been together since quite some time now. And know well about each other's game. We have been playing together and against in the domestic circuit a lot. It is indeed a very well balanced unit," emphasised Zol.
"Having played in Australia earlier will obviously help me. I know the conditions well and will look to make most of this opportunity. We have some quality players in Sanju Samson, who had a terrific domestic and IPL season, and Akhil Herwadkar, who also played the U19 World Cup last year," he further added.
The elegant stroke maker, like almost every left-hander, plays a beautiful cover drive and has the ability to clear the ropes at will. He has come a long way after scoring an unbeaten 451 in 2011, but the 18-year old believes whatever he is right now, is because of that knock.
"I think where I am right now is because of my 451. That innings will always remain close to my heart and will be cherished as one of the sweetest memories of my cricketing journey. Soon after that knock, everything was falling in place for me," concludes the youngster.
Team: Vijay Zol (c), Sanju Samson (vc), Akhil Herwadkar, Shreyas Iyer, Deepak Hooda, Mohammad Saif, Sarfaraz Khan, Ricky Bhui, Abhimanyu Lamba, Rishi Arothe, Atul Singh, C V Milind, Aamir Gani, Kuldeep Yadav, Ankush Bains.
Coach: Bharat Arun