The 2018 edition of the ICC under 19 cricket World Cup starts from the 13th January. The hosts this year is the beautiful nation of the Kiwis, New Zealand. Historically, the event has paved way for many international cricketers to represent the senior national side through this tournament. Present day greats like, Kane Williamson, Joe Root, Steve Smith and Virat Kohli are some of the names who first got recognition at the Under 19 cricket world cup.
The Indian cricket team has given the world some of the best players that have risen through the ranks of under 19 cricket world cup. The tournament has led to the discovery of quite a few international Indian stars in the current world No 1 Test side. The last edition of the U 19 WC in 2014 saw the likes of Rishabh Pant, Washington Sundar and Ishan Kishan stand out. The first two got their dues as they made their debuts in Indian colours in 2017.
In our KreedOn exclusive leading up to the under 19 cricket world cup, let us revisit some of the other notable discoveries for Indian cricket that happened due to the Under 19 cricket World Cup.
ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup – Virender Sehwag 1998
The ‘Nawab of Najafgarh’ or the ‘Multan ka Sultan’ was part of the 1998 WC campaign that took place in South Africa. The results were poor for India as we could only make it to the Super League. It was also a forgettable tournament for the dashing Delhi opener, as he could only manage 76 runs at a measly average of 12.66. His highest score was 38.
However, Viru put the bad performance behind him and concentrated on domestic tournament. In the good patch again, he was officially selected in the Indian team in the early 2000. There was no looking back for Sehwag from that point of time and he became the only Indian cricketer with two triple tons. He also got the recognition of becoming one of its greatest openers of all time. He formed successful partnerships with Sachin Tendulkar in the One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and Gautam Gambhir in Tests.
ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup – Harbhajan Singh 1998
Appearing in the same edition of the Under 19 World Cup as Sehwag, the ‘Turbanator’ did relatively well. The 1998 u-19 WC squad eventually gave six international cricketers to the Indian team. ‘Bhajji’ got eight wickets in the tournament, at a healthy average of 21.12. For his promising performance Harbhajan made his international debut for the senior team barely a month after the tournament. However, it was 2001 edition of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in which he tasted glory for the first time.
The historic series against the Aussies made him the first Indian cricketer to achieve a Test hat-trick. Due to this feat he became an integral part of the Indian team for more than a decade. Till date he is the the third-highest wicket-taker among Indians in Tests with 417 scalps.
ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup – Mohammad Kaif 1998 and 2000
While the first two names on our list did not make a great first impression at the Under 19 cricket world cup, Kaif made his presence felt in both tournaments. His best take away from the 1998 event was scoring 251 runs at a great average of 62.75. This included three half-centuries.
At the cusp of the century in 2000, Kaif was elevated to captain the squad, which also included future India teammate Yuvraj Singh. Much like Yuvraj, Kaif couldn’t quite establish himself in whites, but became a vital asset for the Indians in the ODIs. A reliable middle-order batsman and a brilliant fielder, Kaif was the mainstay of Sourav Ganguly era of Indian cricket, appearing in 125 ODIs.
ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup – Yuvraj Singh 2000
Sixer king Yuvraj Singh was among the standout players in the 2000 u-19 world cup. This was also the first time India won the tournament. A young Yuvi was in splendid form hitting two half-centuries and getting 12 wickets at a stunning average of 11.50. His all-round performance bestowed him with ‘Player of the Series’ award. Yuvraj entered the senior dressing room later that year during the ICC Knockout Tournament. He scored a match-winning 84 in a crunch game against Australia.
While he may have failed to rise in the Test format, Yuvraj went on to become one of India’s greatest limited-overs batsmen. Some of the most memorable moments of Yuvraj’s career include the crucial 69 in the 2002 Natwest Trophy final, the six sixes off Stuart Broad in the inaugural 2007 World T20. And who can forget his contribution in 2011 ICC cricket world cup when his all-round abilities fetched him the ‘Player of the Tournament’ award.
ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup – Shikhar Dhawan 2004
‘Gabbar’ was part of the 2004 edition, one that was packed with as many as nine future international cricketers. Dhawan’s form in the 2004 u 19 WC cannot be described as anything short of incredible. He first established himself as the real ‘Gabbar’ of ICC tournaments in 2004, finishing as the highest run-getter with 505 runs at an astonishing average of 84.16. This included three centuries and a half-century.
But Shikhar was not luck enough like rest of boys to get a direct entry into the national side. He had to wait for six years to make his international debut, and nine to truly establish himself as a regular in the team across all formats. Presently, the dashing opener is among India’s most reliable opening options, especially with Rohit Sharma in white-ball cricket.
ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup – Suresh Raina 2004
Along with Dhawan, Suresh Raina was also a part the 2004 tournament. He had an impressive outing scoring 247 runs at an average 35.28 that included three half-centuries. While his scoring rate was nowhere close to that of Shikhar, he was fortunate enough to get a call-up into the senior team much earlier than Dhawan. He was picked for the 2005 tri-series in Sri Lanka.
Dealing with problems against the short-ball, Raina made his mark as a valuable middle-order batsman. With the ability to get important breakthroughs with the ball, and sharp fielding skills, Raina cemented his place in the senior team. Suresh also went on to become a vital core member of the Chennai Super Kings outfit in the Indian Premier League under the leadership of MS Dhoni.
ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup – Rohit Sharma 2006
The 2006 edition was the first time that an ICC event was held after a gap of just two years. Rohit ‘The Hitman’ Sharma played alongside Cheteshwar Pujara in 2006. In this tournament he got off to a slow start with the bat, but eventually caught up to finish with 205. His average was 41, and included three fifties. Rohit made his ODI and T20I debuts the very next year. He featured in India’s victorious run in the first ever World T20 that took place in South Africa.
The current Mumbai Indian captain and the vice-captain of ODI team, was backed by MS Dhoni despite a bad form. The captains support eventually paid off, as Rohit went on smash one record after another in white-ball cricket, including a breathtaking 264 against Sri Lanka, the highest ODI individual score. As of today, the Indian ‘Hitman’ is the only batsman in the world with three ODI double-tons. He is also the joint record holder of fastest ton in T20I cricket alongside South Africa’s David Miller.
ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup – Ravindra Jadeja 2006 and 2008
The other Indian player in this list to have made two U-19 World Cup appearances is Ravindra Jadeja. The all-rounder experienced more success with the ball than with the bat in the two editions. He got a total of 14 wickets at an average of 13.57. He did shine with the bat in domestic cricket, as he became the only Indian batsman to score three first-class triple-centuries.
While ‘Jaaduu’ made himself an integral part of the Dhoni-led CSK team, it was due to his great form in the 2015 home Test series against South Africa, where he established himself as a leading bowling all-rounder. Forming a deadly partnership with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, ‘Sir Jadeja’ was the mainstay in India becoming the No 1 ranked Test team in the world.
ICC Cricket World Cup – Virat Kohli 2008
Undoubtedly, he is the best batsman in world across all three formats. Virat Kohli highlighted his leadership skills back in the 2008 ICC U-19 cricket world cup. He led the team to their second title. Virat’s form with the bat, though pale by his current standards, was positive. He garnered 235 runs at average of 47, including a century.
At that time, few would have imagined the level of superstardom that Virat Kohli would go on to achieve. The Delhi boy made his international debut against Sri Lanka in late 2008. He notched up his first century against the Lankan’s a year later. This was the beginning of a ‘Virat’ era.
From his numerous centuries till date, his 86-ball 133 against the Lankan’s in the tri-series in Australia, and 183 against Pakistan in the 2012 Asia Cup are the standouts.
Becoming the captain of the Indian side has proved to be a blessing in disguise for the star batsman. With revolutionary captaincy skills, he infuses aggression and high fitness levels like never before. Virat is arguably the finest modern-day limited-overs batsman. Only AB de Villiers comes close to the Indian captain. His tremendous run in the year 2016 and 2017 made him the highest ODI run-getter twice. This has further cemented his status as a superstar of this game.
As of now, Indian fans currently await the performance of the juniors at the Under 19 cricket World Cup. We have to wait till February to know who among the current youngsters, will rise and make a name for himself and team India on the international platform.