Despite suffering a nasty blow on the jaw while training with Delhi ahead of the ongoing 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy, Unmukt Chand played the side’s tournament opener against Uttar Pradesh in Bilaspur and cracked 116 off 125 balls, which underpinned a 55-run win. The Delhi batsman has been forced into a liquid diet and “might need surgery” for a cracked jaw, but he has opted to delay it to continue playing in the tournament.
The injury was a freak one: while he was doing his core drills lying on the ground, the ball flew from the nets and hit him on the jaw. “I was doing one of my usual training [routines] on the mat; somebody was bowling to the batsman in the nets, and the ball came from nowhere,” Chand told ESPNcricinfo.” I was not aware and the ball straightaway hit my jaw, and I obviously needed medical attention. The doctors say I might need surgery but I just want to play and don’t want to skip any games.”
In addition to opening the batting on Monday and lasting nearly 45 overs in the first innings, Chand took the field in the second. He hoped that he could work his way around the injury and play the rest of the tournament.
“As long as my hands and feet are okay, I thought I could play,” Chand said. “Sudden movements of the jaw will hurt but I took some precautionary measures to avoid such sudden movements. Sometimes, you’ve got to get on with it.”
From winning the Under-19 World Cup in 2012 to being dropped from the Delhi team to going unsold at the IPL for two successive seasons, Chand has seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Recently, he was jettisoned from Delhi’s Ranji Trophy team in favour of Kunal Chandela after he had managed only 128 runs in six innings at an average of 25.60. He was also left out of the squad for the league phase of the 20-over Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, before the state selectors made a U-turn by recalling him for the knockouts. He bagged a duck on return but scored a measured 53 in the final to help Delhi secure the title. However, he attracted no bids at the IPL auction the next day.
“Cricket is my life, these difficulties and mental problems keep coming but you have to overcome that,” Chand said. “When I wasn’t playing games, I knew it would not last forever. I knew I had to be ready when the opportunity comes. Mentally, I am strong enough to focus on things which I need and not focus on things which I don’t need.”
Chand revealed that the frustration of warming the bench at Mumbai Indians forced him to leave the franchise. He got a total of seven games in his stint with Mumbai in 2015 and 2016.
“To be very honest, it was a deliberate decision to leave Mumbai Indians. I did not get much games,” he said. “To me playing games was very important rather than sitting on the bench in the IPL. So I had opted of Mumbai Indians and unfortunately I did not get selected in the IPL auction two years in a row.
“I did not get much games in this season’s T20 tournament; it should not have happened. The scouts were there but I did not get chances, and they could not see me. These things hurt but I have had enough of these in my short career so far. I know IPL will come again, and when you have a bigger goal, you can get over these things. Playing for the country is more important.”
Injured jaw and all, Chand faces the possibility of surgery and subsequent recovery, but he just wants to “get on with the job”. That job is to keep firing in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
“I don’t want to categorise it [hundred v Uttar Pradesh] as very important. It might seem so from an external point of view – comeback innings and playing with a cracked jaw and all that. Pain and that sort of things are there but, if I go to an office, I’ve got to get on with the job.”