With 22 days to go for the start of the U-19 World Cup, the Prithvi Shaw-led team India is in envious form. The Indian U-19 team beat England earlier this year in Tests, and in ODIs. That keeps them in good stead ahead of the coveted event.
How does U-19 help a cricketer evolve?
Over the years, we have seen U-19 become the perfect platform for budding talent to get spotted and make it to the national side. That makes it a keenly watched event, to know who can make it to the next level. It is a platform that has shaped the careers of many legendary cricketers like Virat Kohli, Steven Smith, Yuvraj Singh, Ben Stokes, Joe Root and Quinton De Kock.
So who is next in the queue to become the next Kohli, Dhawan and Yuvraj from the current U-19 team India, which will be representing the nation in a few days time? Take a look:
Prithvi Shaw: The Pivot!
Prithvi Shaw came into the limelight when he smashed 546 runs off 330 balls for his school team, Rizvi Springfield, in a Harris Shield match, the highest score in any form of the game since 1901. For years now, we have been hearing about this young batting sensation from Maharashtra, and he is all of 18. He will be leading the Indian contingent in New Zealand. The young batsman has come up the ranks and is now even in consideration for an IPL franchisee. The auctions take place on January 27-28. Shaw is likely to be on every buyer’s wishlist. Shaw, who also plays for the Mumbai Ranji team, has played nine First Class games and scored a staggering 961 runs. He averages an astounding 56.52 and has already scored five centuries. He will certainly be a player to watch out. The onus will be on him to shepherd India in the world extravaganza next month.
Shubham Gill: The Anchor!
Gill scored a stupendous 278 runs in just four innings at a Bradmanesque average of 93 runs per innings and a strike-rate of over 100, in the five-match ODI series in England earlier this year in England. This is not the first time Shubman has amassed such numbers. In an ODI series as he scored 351 runs in merely four innings at a whopping average of 117, and a breathtaking strike-rate of 105 when England toured India earlier this year. Those are numbers one would die for! He is somebody who knows the art of pacing the innings and has a good knack for playing big innings. He is someone Shaw would want to see play the anchor, a role Kohli plays to perfection.
Rahul Chahar: The wicket-taker!
Oh yes, and I confidently say that because he is a wrist-spinner and we all know what damage they can inflict. The 18-year old leggie is already a household name after he represented Rising Pune Supergiants in IPL 2017. He will surely be Shaw’s go-to man in a crunch situation, and would invariably play the role Yuzvendra Chahal does for team India. Come in during the middle-overs, and pick wickets. Wrist spinners are always an asset to have in your mix. In the tour of England earlier this year, Rahul picked up a total of 10 wickets in four matches at a healthy average of 15.2 and a decent economy of 4.18. He also picked six wickets in three matches when England toured India earlier this year. So yes, this lad knows the art of picking wickets, which should benefit the team.
Kamlesh Nagarkoti: The all-rounder!
He is to U-19 team India what Hardik Pandya is to Virat Kohli’s team India! At least his records highlight that. Kamalesh Nagarkoti shot to fame when he bagged a hat-trick to win a match for his team, Rajasthan, in a Vijay Hazare Trophy game against the defending Champions – Gujarat – earlier this year. He has also been a part of the U-23 team at a tender age of 17. He can also chip in with the willow in his hand like he showed against England earlier this year, he scored 81 runs in three innings at an average of 40.5 with a strike-rate of 92 were very crucial for India in deciding the outcome of the series. Kamlesh could be an asset for the team in the seaming conditions of New Zealand.
Himanshu Rana: The batting mainstay!
The 19-year-old Haryanvi is one of the most experienced players in the team. He has played over 30 matches for Haryana in the domestic circuit. Top order batsman Rana could be the one to play a special role in the tournament, he could be the one who could use his experience to see off the new ball in those conditions, where the ball will swing and seam. When England toured India earlier this year, Himanshu added 211 runs in four matches at a handsome average of 53 and a strike-rate of 96 with the help of one ton and one fifty.
The tournament starts from January 13. The boys in blue will be one of the frontrunners for the title and they will certainly make the nation proud. And with Rahul Dravid as the coach of the team, you can surely hope for a big performance by the boys in Blue.
India U-19 Team: Prithvi Shaw (Captain), Shubman Gill (vice-captain), Manjot Kalra, Himanshu Rana, Abhishek Sharma, Riyan Parag, Aryan Juyal (wicket-keeper), Harvik Desai (wicket-keeper), Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Ishan Porel, Arshdeep Singh, Anukul Roy, Shiva Singh, Pankaj Yadav
Standby Players: Om Bhosle, Rahul Chahar, Ninad Rathva, Urvil Patel, Aditya Thakare