A month ago, if you happened to ask a cricket follower who Baba Aparajith is, probably you would have got a blank stare. But today, the whole country knows this lad from Chennai. He is one of India Under-19 World Cup heroes who is basking in the glory of the 2012 global triumph in Australia.
Also read: India's U-19 World Cup winners' profiles
Aparajith won two successive Man-of-the-match awards in the quarter-final against Pakistan and semi-finals versus New Zealand.
When ThatsCricket caught up with the 18-year-old for an exclusive interview, a confident Aparajith spoke on his "proudest moment" of World Cup success, chances of playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL), meeting his idol Rahul Dravid and the road ahead.
Here are the excerpts from an exclusive interview with Aparajith conducted on Monday, September 3.
Question: Could you tell us how the whole Under-19 World Cup experience was?
Baba Aparajith: It was a great experience for all of us. Playing in Australia and winning against them was really great. The success is a stepping stone for the future.
Q: Is winning the U-19 World Cup, the biggest moment in your career so far?
Aparajith: Definitely. This is the biggest achievement in my cricket career. It is a proud moment for me.
Q: Were you nervous ahead of the final against Australia and how did you celebrate your win later?
Aparajith: A day before any match, you are nervous, but I was not too nervous. I treated it as just another match. There was not too much pressure on us. There were few nerves but not too much. After we won, we celebrated. Everybody were out of their worlds. Overall it was a happy feeling in the team.
Q: Who is your idol in cricket? And have you got a chance to meet and interact with him?
Aparajith: Rahul Dravid is my cricket hero. I have always looked upto him for batting. I had got a chance to play in the same league as he did in Chennai. And also when in National Cricket Academy, he came and spoke to us. However, I have not got an opportunity to talk to him on one-on-one basis. In bowling I like R Ashwin and Daniel Vettori. I have played with Ashwin for Tamil Nadu and learnt a lot about offspin bowling.
Q: As a cricketer, what are your strengths?
Aparajith: I can bat for long hours, picking ones and twos. I can attribute this as my batting strength. In bowling, I keep be tight bowling consistently in one area.
Q: Do you try to copy any cricketer?
Aparajith: No. I don't try to copy any player. I like certain players the way they play, as I said earlier, Dravid in batting and Ashwin and Vettori for bowling.
Q: How has been the support from U-19 World Cup winning coach B Arun?
Aparajith: The support has been excellent, not only by our coach and all the support staff. We can approach them directly and discuss. We gel together as a team. That is the reason for success.
Q: Your captain, Unmukt Chand has come in for high praise from many for his captaincy and batting. How is he?
Aparajith: Unmukt (Chand) is a good captain. He is also a matured batsman. He always takes responsibility to bat till the end and finish a game. He has good leadership qualities.
Q: Is Test cricket your ultimate dream or you want to play in all formats including the IPL?
Aparajith: I am not looking at only one format. I want to excel in all formats of the game. Every format has different challenges.
Q: Do you want to play IPL or is it too early to think of it?
Aparajith: I have not been approached by any IPL team so far. If I get an offer, I will definitely consider it. I am open to playing in the IPL.
Q: How has been the support from your family?
Aparajith: My family has been very supportive right from the start of my career. The best thing about their support is that they are always making me feel positive in the game.
Q: How tough will it be for you to make the transition from Under-19 to first class cricket and further?
Aparajith: My approach is simple. I treat every format of the game as a normal one. So, playing Under-19 or first-class, I take it as another game.