After becoming the first Indian to play in the BBL, India’s Under-19 World Cup-winning captain Unmukt Chand is set to add another chapter to his journeyman career when he lines up for Chattogram Challengers in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) early next year.
Chand, now 29, was picked up at the draft in Dhaka on Wednesday, with the franchise keen on having an Indian player to tap into the fan base in the country, according to franchise owner Rifatuzzaman.
Chand’s eligibility comes from having retired from all forms of cricket under the BCCI’s ambit in September last year. He currently plays league cricket in the USA in a bid to qualify for the national team, which could happen at some stage in 2024. Chand lives in San Francisco, and has also signed a multi-year deal with the USA’s Major League Cricket that is set to kick off next year.
His maiden BBL stint last year was far from memorable: he managed to feature in just two matches, scoring 35 runs with a best of 29. As things stand, Chand won’t be returning to Melbourne Renegades this year after making his BBL debut during the 2021-22 season.
As things stand, his USA eligibility pathway rests on him being in the country for ten months in a year for three years. Featuring in the BPL is unlikely to jeopardise his chances of qualifying to play for USA in 2024, as the tournament is set to run only for six weeks from January 5 to February 15. However, taking on a subsequent T20 gig outside the USA could prove challenging.
After his heroics at the Under-19 level – he scored 111 not out in the 2012 final against Australia to win the Player-of-the-Match award – Chand was marked for success at the higher level too, but couldn’t make the grade, never getting selected for India’s senior side.
Chand, who represented Delhi in India’s domestic circuit, played 67 first-class games while scoring 3379 runs at an average of 31.57. He fared better in List A cricket, where he scored 4505 runs at an average of 41.33 in 120 matches. And before leaving Indian cricket, he had 1565 runs at an average of 22.35 and a strike rate of 116.09 in 77 T20s.
In the IPL, he represented the erstwhile Delhi Daredevils – now Delhi Capitals – before also playing for Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians. He featured in 21 matches in all, scoring 300 runs in 20 innings with a highest of 58.