From Kaif, Ishan to Unmukt, Where Are the Former India U-19 Stars?
The Quint takes a look at the career progression of a few Indian under-19 World Cup stars over the years.
The ICC Under-19 World Cup has often been the platform that has helped cricketers of the next generation emerge on the grand stage, rise to their potential and earn a mark in world cricket.
From legends of the game like Ricky Ponting and Graeme Smith to talismanic Indian figures like that of Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh, there has been no dearth of talent at the disposal and quite often, the players have managed to elevate themselves and thrive in the senior level, too.
However, there have been those odd blips as well, one where a player once touted to be the next best thing has spiralled his way down despite ending the tournament on a high.
On expected lines, there will be a lot of interest in the pair of Yashasvi Jaiswal and Ravi Bishnoi, who ended the 2020 under-19 World Cup as the most successful run-getter and wicket-taker respectively.
The Quint takes a look at the career progression of a few Indian captains at the Under-19 WC and the player-of-the-tournaments over the years:
India were led by Mylvahanan Senthilnathan in the tournament, which was then known as the Youth Cricket World. Senthilnathan’s journey, however, wasn’t quite a fruitful one as the right-handed batsman only managed to play 37 First-Class games for Tamil Nadu, scoring 1,615 runs at an average of 31.66.
Some of the other names who fared better in their careers were: Pravin Amre, Narendra Hirwani, Nayan Mongia and Venkatapathy Raju.
Rechristened as the ICC Under-19 World Cup, India’s campaign was led in the tournament by Amit Pagnis, a Mumbai-born cricketer who represented both Mumbai and Railways in his domestic career.
Quite like Senthilnathan, Pagnis never played for the senior team. A few notable names from India’s campaign included that of Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Mohammad Kaif, who also featured in the next edition of the under-19 World Cup in 2000.
India won their maiden U-19 World Cup under the leadership of Mohammad Kaif, while Yuvraj Singh was adjudged as the player of the series. Besides their exemplary fielding standards, Kaif and Yuvraj would later go on be the backbone of the Indian middle-order in the early 2000s.
Yuvraj also won the World Cup with the senior team in 2011 – and was named the player of the tournament yet again. Despite playing 125 ODIs and another 13 Tests for India, Kaif’s iconic moment with the national team had come in 2002 when he anchored the chase against England in the Natwest Trophy final.
Parthiv Patel was the skipper of the India under-19 side, which crashed out in the semi-finals. Besides him, the squad also included Stuart Binny and Irfan Pathan with the latter later emerging as one of the finest swing bowlers for the country.
However, while Pathan went on to play more than 100 ODIs, Patel failed to make the most of his opportunities before Mahendra Singh Dhoni emerged on the scene and donned the wicket-keeping gloves for several years to come. Patel, who hasn’t announced his retirement yet, played 25 Tests, 38 ODIs and two T20Is for India.
Quite a number of future Indian internationals were part of this edition with Ambati Rayudu leading the bunch. Although India lost in the semi-final yet again, albeit this time to arch-rivals Pakistan, the campaign did help unearth talents like that of Shikhar Dhawan, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina and Robin Uthappa.
While Rayudu has had a topsy-turvy ride with the national team, playing just limited-overs cricket, he has enjoyed a good run in domestic cricket, including in the IPL. Player of the tournament Dhawan, however, has enjoyed a stellar career and is still among India’s first-choice openers.
India lost the U-19 World Cup final to Pakistan under the leadership of Ravikant Shukla, a Uttar Pradesh cricketer who would later go on to play 40 First-Class matches for the state. He also featured for Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League.
Among other future Indian stars, current limited-overs vice-captain Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Cheteshwar Pujara, Piyush Chawla and Manish Pandey were also a part of this campaign. Pujara was the player-of-the tournament and is currently one of the batting mainstays for India’s Test side.
India won the World Cup for a second time with Virat Kohli leading the charge for the colts. Perhaps the biggest name to come out of the under-19 ranks, the current Indian captain has given the nation a fresh lease of life after Sachin Tendulkar hung up his boots in 2013.
The brash young kid of 2008 has matured into an able leader and has been smashing batting records at will over the years and already has 70 international hundreds to his name. Jadeja and Pandey had featured in this edition too.
In a disappointing campaign for the India under-19 side, where they lost the fifth place play-off to South Africa, India’s only bright spots in the campaign came in the form of KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal. Ashok Menaria was the skipper of the U-19 side but is yet to play for the senior team.
He, however, leads Rajasthan in domestic cricket and has also played for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL. Meanwhile, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal have both scaled greater heights and continue providing selection headaches for the Indian think tank in limited-overs and Test cricket respectively.
Unmukt Chand, skipper of the India under-19 side for this edition, is a classic case of how success in U-19 cricket doesn’t guarantee one of an illustrious career. Chand, besides leading India to the world title for a third time, had also scored a match-winning ton in the final against Australia.
Unfortunately, that has been the only high of his career so far. His slump in form has seen him get dropped from Delhi’s domestic side as well and he now plies his trade for Uttarakhand.
Vijay Zol, the cricketer who had scored 451 in an under-19 match in the Cooch Behar Trophy, was the skipper of the team in this edition. He was also part of the previous edition when India had won the World Cup but couldn’t lead the side to the title this time around. India crashed out in the quarter-final.
His lackadaisical form in domestic cricket ever since has seen him play just 15 First-Class matches for Maharashtra. Two prolific cricketers to emerge from this edition have been India’s new-found No 4 Shreyas Iyer and chinaman Kuldeep Yadav.
Two of India’s prolific wicket-keeper batsmen – Rishabh Pant and Ishan Kishan – played in this edition of the World Cup with the latter leading the side. However, while Ishan is yet to earn a national cap, Pant has represented India in all three formats.
Ishan has been enjoying a good run in domestic cricket though, both for Jharkhand and in the IPL with Mumbai Indians. He has also been a regular for India A. Pant, who stormed on to the international scene and was expected to fill in the void left by Dhoni has, however, had a chequered career with inconsistent form costing him his spot in the national team.
India were crowned champions for a record fourth time under the leadership of Prithvi Shaw, the teenage sensation who recently earned his limited-overs debut against New Zealand.
Quite like the last edition, India found two terrific names in Shaw and Shubman Gill, the player of the tournament, with both tipped to be part of Indian cricket’s future in the long-term.
Gill has also featured for the ODI side and is enjoying his purple patch with India A. IPL franchisees Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Capitals have both had to shell north of Rs 1 crore to bag the services of Gill and Shaw respectively.
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