One of the premier tournaments in junior cricket, the ICC U19 World Cup will start from 13th January in New Zealand, and India will play Australia in its opening match on January 14 in Mount Maunganui.
India U19 will be led by Mumbai’s batting sensation Prithvi Shaw and the team is coached by batting legend Rahul Dravid. India has reached the finals of the tournament five times and has won the tournament three times in 2000, 2008 and 2012.
Some of the current India players like Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja, and Kuldeep Yadav have been part of successful campaigns in U19 World Cup. They were recently interviewed by the International Council of Cricket (ICC) and each of them called for the India U19 team to perform well in the tournament.
Shikhar, who played in the U 19 World Cup in 2004, said “The Under-19 World Cup is a great platform for youngsters as they get an early feel of international cricket. The tournament provides players the opportunity to not just iron out their flaws but also to understand how things pan out in top tournaments.”
“I feel this tournament has gained in importance over the years with so many players prospering after doing well in the tournament. Look around and you will see that a number of players in each international side figured in past Under-19 World Cups,” Dhawan said.
Ravindra Jadeja won the 2008 U19 World Cup under the leadership of Virat Kohli and said, “It is a great learning ground and helps players comprehend what international cricket is all about. For me, this tournament will always remain special since I was part of the team that won it in 2008 under Virat Kohli. Virat has since gone on to become one of the best batsmen of his generation and also a successful captain.”
“I was wicket-less against Pakistan in the first game… got a hat-trick against Scotland which was really important for me and for the team as well,” U19 World Cup 2014 player Kuldeep Yadav said.
“Now (I also have a hat-trick) against Australia, never dreamt of taking a hat-trick against a side like Australia. I’m now with two hat-tricks – one in the U-19 World Cup and one in ODI matches,” he said.
Kuldeep called the tournament a stepping stone for youngsters towards the senior team.
“It’s a big stage to represent your country, you will get a lot of publicity. It is obviously important to perform well in the tournament. Later on, you can develop your skills for the future and to play for the senior team.”