India’s campaign at the Under-19 World Cup is about to start in 4 days.
And while it’s true that the U-19 team will never draw crowds like the senior team does, the tournament has been a platform for young cricketers to get their talent noticed and hopefully get the ticket to the national squad. Year after year, India has found gems at the tournament, many of whom are now regarded as legends of the game.
Here are 10 players who were first noticed at the U-19 World Cup and later became an all important part of the Indian national team.
1. Yuvraj Singh
Man of The Tournament Yuvraj Singh was the biggest find of the 2000 U-19 World Cup, which India won emphatically by beating Sri Lanka in the final. He hit two 50s in the tournament and took 11 wickets to help young Indian team capture the title. The man went on to more than repeat the feat with the senior side.
2. Virat Kohli
The 2008 U-19 World Cup victory was special for India because it gave the side its current captain and batting mainstay, Virat Kohli. The victory was a major breakthrough for Kohli as he contributed towards it not only with his batting, but by also leading the side effectively and to victory.
3. Mohammad Kaif
The famous Kaif-Yuvi partnership dates back to their U-19 World Cup days. Kaif was captain of the side which won the title with crucial help from Yuvraj Singh’s all-round efforts. He went on to play some memorable partnerships with Yuvraj and became one of the best fielders in the side.
4. Harbhajan Singh
The Turbanator did not have exactly an excellent campaign at the U-19 World Cup but his talent did not go unnoticed. As a part of the squad for the 1998 U-19 World Cup, he took 8 wickets in 6 matches at an economy rate of 3.44 and got a call for the national ODI team in the same year.
5. Rohit Sharma
The double hundred master and India’s star opener Rohit Sharma had a remarkable campaign at the U-19 World Cup in 2006. He scored 205 runs in 6 innings at an average of 41 and was rewarded with a call for the national squad the next year. He was a part of the team that won the maiden T20 World Cup in 2007.
6. Cheteshwar Pujara
Known mainly for his exploints in the longest version of the game, Cheteshwar Pujara was Sharma’s teammate at the 2006 U-19 World Cup and also the tournament’s leading scorer. He scored 349 runs in 6 innings and was the only batsman from the side to score a century.
7. Ravindra Jadeja
Another gem of a find from the same edition of the tournament was Ravindra Jadeja, who now leads the spin attack for India with his partner in crime, R Ashwin. Jadeja did not have a great stint but because of his young age, got to be a part of the 2008 U-19 team which emerged as the winner under the leadership of Virat Kohli.
8. Virender Sehwag
When it comes to carefree batting, Virender Sehwag has no competition whatsoever. He has the distinction of scoring the fastest 300 in the history of international cricket and of being one of the only two players to score a double hundred in ODIs and a triple century in Tests (the other being Chris Gayle). But his journey started at the 1998 U-19 World Cup, which also gave the world cricketers like Harbhajan Singh, Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq and the run machine, Chris Gayle.
9. Shikhar Dhawan
Dhawan, who was the leading run scorer with 505 runs, was named player of the tournament in 2004 edition of the U-19 World Cup. With this outstanding stint, he showed early signs of being a magnificent attacking batsman, a reputation that he’s maintained, if not enhanced in the senior team.
10. Suresh Raina
The 2004 edition also featured Suresh Raina, a mainstay of the 2011 World Cup winning team and (at one time) Dhoni’s go-to-man. While Raina didn’t really set the tournament on fire, his brilliant fielding, the knack for picking up important wickets, and the ability to up the ante when the batting order slumped ensured he was always an important member of the senior team.
The importance of the U-19 World Cup can be gauged from the fact that, 8 of the 10 Test captains in 2016 had played the tournament as teenagers.
We wish luck to the current squad and hope they become great assets for the national side in times to come.