In a country that breathes cricket and worships cricketers, the stakes are often very high, the reason being, the same fans who put these players on a pedestal, don’t take a lot of time to drag them down.
Facing such pressures with the hope of emerging victorious, are the young boys of India’s Under-19 cricket team, which will be starting its World Cup campaign this Sunday.
Despite their young age, these players are have accomplished a lot in First Class cricket and have fought hard for their position in the team.
Here’s everything you need to know about them.
1. Prithvi Shaw (Captain)
Right-handed opening batsman
Leading the team is 17-year-old Prithvi Shaw, who is already being tipped as India’s ‘next Sachin Tendulkar’. While it might be too soon to give him that title, the youngster has definitely shown some early signs of becoming a legend. With outstanding First Class cricket figures to back his talent, Prithvi would look to replicate Virat Kohli’s performance in 2008 and lead the team to victory.
2. Shubhman Gill (Vice-Captain)
Helping the captain in the batting department will be Shubhman Gill, who gave an outstanding performance in India’s recent U-19 series against England by scoring a total of 278 runs in four innings at a stunning average of 93. He also played his first Ranji Trophy tournament this year and scored his maiden First Class century.
3. Manjot Kalra
Despite the controversy surrounding his age, Delhi’s Manjot has made to the final list of players who will be representing India at the all-important tournament. He was instrumental in India’s win in the series against England and was the second highest run scorer. Manjot will be sharing the responsibility of putting big numbers on the scoreboard, along with Shubhman and Prithvi.
4. Himanshu Rana
Right-handed opening batsman
Likely opener for the team alongside Prithvi, Himanshu’s task will be to give batting a good start. He represented Haryana in the Ranji Trophy and amassed 792 runs at an average of 52.8. Himanshu was also the skipper of the squad for the Under-19 Asia Cup held in 2017 and the team will want to take advantage of his batting abilities.
5. Abhishek Sharma
Sharma is a left-handed batsman and left arm orthodox bowler, who can prove to be an asset for the team in New Zealand. He was the highest wicket-taker in the U-16 Vijay Merchant Trophy last year and was a part of team Punjab team in the Ranji Trophy, 2017.
6. Riyan Parag
Right-handed middle-order batsman
One of the youngest players in the team, 16-year-old Riyan made his List A debut for Assam last year and also led his team India Red to victory in the Challengers Trophy by smashing a century.
7. Harvik Desai
Wicket-keeper and batsman
Harvik will have an important role of keeping the wickets and scoring runs for the team. He made his List A debut for Saurashtra in the Vijay Hazare Trophy in 2016, and subsequently made it to the U-19 team after being noticed by the selectors.
8. Shivam Mavi
Right-arm pacer and lower-order batsman
Mavi, who considers South African pacer Dale Steyn to be his idol, will play an instrumental role for the team as a lower-order batsman, too. Belonging to the same cricket academy as fast bowlers Praveen Kumar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shubham has some big shoes to fill.
9. Kamlesh Nagarkoti
In his six List A matches till now, Nagarkoti has scalped nine wickets and also made 116 runs at a decent average of 38.66. Nagarkoti and Mavi will join hands and aim to make India’s bowling department stronger in the tournament. His ability to generate reverse swing and bowl at a decent pace makes him an invaluable asset to the team.
10. Ishan Porel
Right-arm medium bowler
19-year-old Ishan is one of the most experienced players in the team and will look to repeat his performance from the Ranji Trophy tournament. Playing for Bengal, he scalped 13 wickets in 5 innings and made an important place for himself in a team that boasts of giving India pacers like Shami and Dinda.
11. Anukul Roy
Anukul’s abilities as an all-rounder were visible during the India U-19 team’s tour of England. He will be an important part of the team at the World Cup and will be expected to contribute with both the bat and the ball.
12. Shiva Singh
The importance of a good spinner is known to all and Shiva will be the team’s go-to person at the World Cup. He will hold the responsibility of strengthening the spin department along with Anukul and also contribute by scoring runs lower down the order.
13. Aryan Juyal
Yet to make his senior level debut, 16-year-old Aryan is the only player from Uttarakhand to be selected in the squad.
14. Arshdeep Singh
6-foot pacer Arshdeep has gained a reputation as a consistent wicket-taker after his successful stint in the Challenger Trophy this year. He also returned with good figures, playing for Punjab in the district and Age Group cricket.
15. Pankaj Yadav
A milkman’s son from Jharkhand, Pankaj is India’s mystery weapon at the tournament. He has not played a single U-19 game for the country yet, and will want to make the most of this big opportunity.