Despite the expectations of an entire nation sitting on the shoulders of young Manjot Kalra, he showed the nerves of steel to steer off the pressure and led India to the ICC Under-19 World Cup triumph in New Zealand earlier this month. Opener Kalra, whose match-winning ton in the final against Australia, helped the Boys in Blue clinch the World Cup trophy for a record fourth time, revealed how he managed to keep his calm when the stakes were sky-rocketing.
In an exclusive interview with India TV, Kalra shared his experience about the pressure he faced in the finals and how the entire team felt when they went up to chase the target that was set by Australia.
"There was a lot of pressure in the World Cup final and it was quite a big game. There was nervousness but we were confident at the same time and we played according to our ability and we could chase the target that was set by Australia," Kalra told India TV.
In the final of the ICC U-19 World Cup, Australia had set a target of 216 for the Prithvi Shaw-led Indian team to chase and it was opener Kalra who rose up to the occasion and managed to take on the Australian bowlers alone as he scored his ton right before the team coached by Rahul Dravid placed their hands on the trophy.
Kalra said the batsmen were not tested by the Australian bowlers despite India losing Prithvi Shaw (29) and Shubman Gill (31). Along with wicket-keeper Harvik Desai (47*), Kalra chased down an easy target to help India clinch their record fourth cup.
"When we were playing in the finals, the middle and lower order were not tested too much by Australia and we knew that if we played according to our capability we could go forward. Our first priority was to build a partnership, then we saw from there on what to do", said Kalra.
Winning the World Cup also made Dravid realise his long-standing dream. His lads finished the tournament unbeaten. Kalra spoke about how it was a learning curve from India's 'Wall' Dravid in the U-19 campaign.
"It was a great experience learning from a legend, we have been working for so long with Rahul Dravid and we learnt many things in the tournament from him", said Kalra on Dravid.
The Man of the Match in the U-19 World Cup final has grabbed attention in the 2018 IPL auctions and will now be seen in the Gautam Gambhir-led Delhi Daredevils franchise. Kalra said he would like to play in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and is 'excited' to be a part of the IPL 2018 and would love to grab every chance in the upcoming tournament.
"I would like to play in the Vijay Hazare trophy and also looking forward towards the Indian Premier League as well and grab a chance in the tournament."
Kalra said he was looking forward to the IPL and will relish the opportunity of sharing the dressing room with some of the best players around in world cricket.
"I'm excited and will get to learn a lot from the experienced players. We were facing the U-19 bowlers but now we get a chance to face the international bowlers as well," Kalra signed off.