Under 19 is a great stage for the upcoming stars of the game. And fortunately for India, the dominance of Men in Blue juniors has been great in U-19 events. In the first week of 2022, the U-19 India team lifted the Asia Cup for eight-time. They did it by comfortably beating Sri Lanka by 9 wickets in a rain-affected match. Since the start of the Asia Cup for the juniors, India has managed to win 7 titles individually, 1 title was shared between India and Pakistan, and Afghanistan emerged victorious in lifting one title.
The junior Men in Blue lifting the title was a great sign, considering the U-19 world cup. And they proved it by winning the first match of the World Cup yesterday against the Proteas. Batting first, the team led by Yash Dhull was reduced to a low score, but the captain led from the front and played a beautiful knock of 82 from 100 balls. He was well assisted by Shaik Rasheed and Kaushal Tambe. With 233 to defend, Vicky Ostwal and Raj Angad Bawa did the trick for Men In Blue with the former getting a five-for and later scalping 4 wickets.
India would hope that the juniors carry on the same winning run in the tournament ahead. Speaking of the performance in previous U-19 world cups, India has had an upper hand in various departments. Men in Blue have emerged victorious most of the time in the world cup, winning it on 4 occasions in 2000, 2008, 2012 and 2018. Furthermore, they have the record of the longest winning streak of 11 matches, which happened collectively combining the 2018 and 2020 world cup. They also have the highest winning rate in U-19 world cups with a win percentage of over 76 per cent.
Speaking of individual records by Indian junior players, there are many. The highest run-getter in a single world cup is Shikhar Dhawan, with 505 runs in the 2004 world cup. Most men of the tournament awards have been awarded to Indians, with Yuvraj Singh, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shubham Gill and Yashasvi Jaiswal winning it in 2000, 2004, 2006, 2018 and 2020 respectively.
Statistics have been in India's favour. In addition to this, the U-19 world cup squad members have significantly contributed to the senior Men in the Blue team later on. The world cup winning captains Mohammad Kaif, Virat Kohli, Unmukt Chand and Prithvi Shaw were looked up as future stars and barring Unmukt, the rest three have proved their worth in the team, with Virat and Prithvi still active in the circuit.
Apart from captains, there have been great names who have contributed greatly to Indian cricket. The likes of Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja and many others have been an integral part of the team which brings smiles to the faces of billions. The likes of Shubham Gill, Ravi Bishnoi, Yashasvi Jaiswal, etc are looked up to as the future stars of India. All these have been a part of the junior team first. The experience of playing in the U-19 team immensely benefits the younger talents to groom themselves and hone their skills.
Likewise, the current team led by Yash Dhull would be giving new stars to the Indian team for the future. The likes of Harnoor Singh, Vicky Otswal ,Rajvardhan Hangargekar and others would be an integral part of senior team in the years to come. At this moment, they are raring to go and make an impression in the world cup. And having won the first match, they have made a good first impression. The coach of the team and former India cricketer Hrishikesh Kanitkar is extremely confident about the young boys and says that the title win in the Asia Cup and a victory to start the World Cup campaign has boosted their morale greatly. One can hope for the best to happen, and as Indian, we will pray that these future stars come back from Guyana with the 5th world cup title.
Authored By:- Ashwin Jangam ( Cricket Analyst, Host and Entertainer)
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