Townsville, Australia: Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram on Sunday lavished praise on India U-19 skipper Unmukt Chand for guiding his team to its third World Cup title here today and said the opener is ready to play for the senior side.
Describing Chand's unbeaten 111-run knock as the best innings in under-19 cricket, Akram said, "As a whole package, he is excellent. This guy is very special and I hope the Indian selectors are looking at him because Ian Chappell (former Australian captain) has been saying, we have been saying that Chand is ready for India."
"It's been our privilege to see the innings played today by Chand. It's the best innings in U-19 cricket that I have ever seen. I think few players are ready to play for India 'A' or may be for the Indian team, Sandeep Sharma and Unmukt Chand. Chand has already got picked for India 'A' touring New Zealand in September-October," he said.
Chand led from the front as India beat defending champions Australia by six wickets at Tony Ireland Stadium. This was India U-19s' first triumph after Mohammed Kaif and Virat Kohli led their teams to win in 2000 and 2008.
Akram also praised the effort of glovesman Smit Patel, who hit 62, and in the company of Chand, overhauled the target of 226 on a bouncy strip with 14 balls to spare.
"It was a clever move by the captain or the coach to send him up the order in place of Akshdeep Nath, who had an average tournament. Smit is a busy player. He takes singles and hit boundaries. Overall, he supported the captain well and rotated the strike.
"That's where he is very useful and Chand, all the way, was very calm and composed. There was as such no pressure on him and this guy (Smit) helped that cause as well," added the legendary paceman.
Akram said that winning the World Cup on Australian soil counts as an ultimate feeling. "This is ultimate...to win the World Cup and that too in Australia where the wickets help the fast bowlers. I think they came out on top."