India U19 star Manjot Kalra says his ultimate aim is to play Test Cricket

Delhi boy and India U19 star Manjot Kalra became the toast of the nation after smashing a match-winning century in the final of the recently concluded U19 World Cup in New Zealand against Australia. Chasing a target of 217 runs to lift the cup, Manjot played an unbeaten knock of 101 runs and took his team home in the final on February 3.

The talented youngster, who will play for the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL this year, spoke to Sportswallah, and shed some light on India U19 coach Rahul Dravid’s contribution in his career and his understanding with Prithvi Shaw.

On life after U19 World Cup win in New Zealand

Manjot said that his life got a bit hectic after the century in the big final but has now come back to being the same. Stating that the Under 19 World Cup win was a dream come true for him and his teammates, the young southpaw was overwhelmed with the kind of acknowledgement and felicitation that he has got after the win.

“But life hasn’t changed much. I am the same Manjot Kalra that I used to be prior to the U19 World Cup,” he said.

Experience under the guidance of Rahul Dravid

Shedding light on Rahul Dravid’s coaching methods and his contribution to India’s U-19 World Cup win, Manjot said that Dravid is more of a mentor than a coach for him and his teammates.

“He doesn’t like to talk much about technique unless you seek his advice. He mainly talks about how to tackle mental pressure. He himself as a cricketer has the experience to play in the highest level and he is an example before us,” Manjot explained.

He also emphasized Dravid’s humble ways and said that the legendary Indian batsman is available to offer suggestions and advice at any point of time.

On his upcoming maiden IPL stint with the Delhi Daredevils

The young Delhi left-hander was picked up by the Delhi Daredevils at the recent IPL auction and Manjot is visibly excited to make his first foray into the world’s premier T20 league. Having started practicing again at the Bharat Nagar Cricket Academy in Delhi under the supervision of his childhood coach Sanjay Bhardwaj, Manjot Kalra said that his preparations for the tournament are already underway and that he is looking forward to sharing the dressing-room with major international stalwarts like Kagiso Rabada, Colin Munro, Glenn Maxwell, Gautam Gambhir and Chris Morris. “It will be a tough competition but if I get a game, I will try to utilise that opportunity to the fullest,” he said.

On controversy surrounding his age in Delhi’s cricket circuit

“There were allegations, but it all came in my favour after I took the medical test. Having never experienced all this, it did affect me initially. But my family was very supportive and did not let the episode affect me. It wasn’t a great time for us, but I am happy that everything sorted itself out. I am fortunate to have played in the World Cup and represented India,” Manjot explained.

On his understanding with U19 skipper and opening partner Prithvi Shaw

A major factor in India’s U19 World Cup win in New Zealand’s tough conditions was the solid starts that Manjot Kalra and Prithvi Shaw were able to provide the team in the tournament. Manjot made it clear that he shares a great rapport with Prithvi and the two are very comfortable playing with each other. “We have been playing for a long time now. It was a wonderful experience to play under him and also learn from him. Everyone in the team  listens to him. Prithvi is more of a friend than a captain to me,” he said.

On his future goals and Test Cricket

In an age where T20 cricket is taking centre-stage, Manjot Kalra has slightly different aspirations than some of his peers. The Delhi southpaw considers Test cricket as the ultimate test for any cricketer and said that his biggest dream is to be a part of the Indian Test team for a long time. He also stated his desire to play under Virat Kohli and learn from the modern master.