Mumbai: In contrast to captain Unmukt Chand, who led India to their third U-19 World Cup win in Australia last Sunday but is facing problems of low attendance in his college, teammate Harmeet Singh is fortunate as his college here has recognised his feats and supported him.

"I won't go into Unmukt's case but my college has supported me a lot. They have not been judgemental about me playing for India. Even when I was nothing, they supported me.

"They recognised me as a budding cricketer and they saw potential in me," said the young left-arm spinner after he was felicitated by Thakur College's authorities who gave him a cash award of Rs 50,000.

On the other hand, Chand has not been allowed to sit for exams by St Stephen's College in Delhi for want of sufficient attendance.

"A college or school's support is very important. That support gives you motivation to perform even better. I won't say that is a cause for my achievement but it is a part of my achievement and that motivates me to do better and achieve higher heights," Singh told reporters after the function.

Asked about higher expectations from him after his World Cup performance, the 19-year old said, "Obviously people are talking about it but I need this feeling to sink in. The sooner it sinks, the better it is for me."

The spinner, who had missed last year's Ranji season as he was preparing for the Under 19 World Cup, said he will start practising at the Mumbai Cricket Association's Bandra Kurla Complex ground from Monday for the coming season.

"Whatever celebrations were there, it is over now. I will go and practise the same way I did before the World Cup.

I know how hard I worked before the World Cup. I just came home once during the three months.

"The whole team has gone through hardship. It has not been an easy path for us. We have struggled in the World Cup.

There were no easy games for us. Even against Papua New Guinea, we were struggling. But we stuck together and did what best we know," he said.

Harmeet, whose bowling has been compared to that of former India captain Bishen Singh Bedi by Ian Chappell, reacted to the praise from the former Australian skipper by saying he had a long way to go in his cricket career before being compared to a great like Bedi.

"There is still time for me. I will follow what higher people in BCCI tell me. It is not going to be easy from now because people will expect (things from me). I know one thing - that my self belief is strong."

"Harmeet bowls like Bishen Bedi, with that same natural flight and guile that would right now place him as the best spin bowler in any Test side bar England. Harmeet is ready to be considered for national selection," Chappell had commented in his newspaper column.

Harmeet rued not having played a single Ranji game last year as the selectors wanted him to focus on the prestigious international event.

"Last year. I didn't play a single Ranji Trophy game. I wanted to play in Ranji but our selectors told me to play the Under 19 World Cup as this was my last year (for U-19 events).

All in all it was a good season. I didn't start well but when it mattered the most, I performed well. Whatever happened, happened for good."

The youngster was all full of praises for Shane Warne and remarked that the Australian spin wizard had taken a lot of wickets at home and not just in the sub continent's spin-friendly tracks.

"I respect Warne's bowling a lot. Bowling with that copybook action and taking over 700 Test wickets is amazing.

Your bowling can be very predictable with all the visual data being available. You can be easily caught in your action but that guy is something different.

"In other spin bowlers like Sunil Narine it is understandable because there is something different about their action. But Warne picked up wickets with his orthodox action and he completely dominated the cricket world.

Especially, he picked up wickets in Australia and not just the sub-continent," he said.

The young slow bowler thanked his parents for the sacrifices they have made to help him realise his dreams.

"I would like to thank my parents for their support. At the age of 11, when I just entered sixth standard, I had not started taking cricket (seriously) then, my dad decided to sell our house in Malad and shift to Borivili (both Mumbai's suburbs) just to change my school.

"We stayed on rent for five years. The belief that they showed in me is still active today. My mother travelled with me for five long years in crowded local trains. Travelling from Borivili to Dadar in a Mumbai local train is not easy.

That has made me tough. All their hard work has paid off now," he said.

(Agencies)

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