Young gun Param Uppal will soon get his chance to lead Australia’s Under 19s, but you could argue he already has.
One of three co-captains for the current series against Sri Lanka’s Under 19s, alongside Will Sutherland and Jason Sangha, Uppal’s leadership qualities have already stood out to the likes of National Talent Manager Greg Chappell and Australia Under 19s coach Matthew Elliott.
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On Thursday, Uppal led with the bat as both Chappell and Elliott watched on, the elegant right-hander compiling a superb 111 which set up a thumping 160-run win to give the hosts a 1-0 series lead.
"It was unbelievable, knowing that you’re hitting a hundred for your country," Uppal said post-game.
"It’s a very big deal. It’s an honour.
"It was incredible… it’s been a while since I’ve hit a hundred actually, so it’s always good to put on the yellows and score a hundred for your country.”
It might be his first hundred for a while, but to be fair, Uppal wasn’t all that far off on a couple of occasions.
He spent the bulk of this season at first-drop in Fairfield-Liverpool’s 1st XI, and made 97 on two occasions for NSW Metro at the under-19 national championships in December, one of those with red ink.
And while the 18-year-old might not be a household name just yet, he’s been a regular in the Pathways system for many years.
Uppal, of Indian origin, captained Australia in the under-16 age group and has been a constant figure in New South Wales’ under-17 and under-19 representative outfits.
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He hammered the equal third-most runs at the recently completed under-19 carnival, scoring 370 at an average of 61.67, before passing 50 for the Gilchrist XII in the Pathways BBL Curtain Raiser at the SCG.
While Max Bryant and Jack Edwards got off to a flyer today, Uppal’s ability to control the match as wickets fell around him during the back half of Australia’s innings was impressive.
Even going at just under a run-per-ball.
But a level-headed kid, he knows to expect nothing less than a big fightback from the Sri Lankans in the second game of the series on Saturday.
That said, he’s confident both he and the team are up for the fight.
"It’s always good to get the first win on the board, it’s a five game series and it’s good to go 1-0 up," Uppal said.
"We’ve started off quick out of the blocks. It’s been really good.
"We just want a clean sweep I guess, that’s the goal. If we just stick to what we need to go I think we’ll go really well."