Youth power: on India's U-19 World Cup win

India’s title triumph in the Under-19 cricket World Cup at the Bay Oval in New Zealand seemed inevitable. Prithvi Shaw’s boys, astutely coached by Rahul Dravid, maintained an unbeaten record through their three-week sojourn. The rousing campaign commenced with a 100-run win against Australia on January 14; in subsequent games, Papua New Guinea, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Pakistan were all emphatically defeated. There were no big-game nerves and even in the much-hyped semifinal against Pakistan, India pocketed a facile 203-run victory. In the summit clash against Australia, Shaw’s boys followed their template of dominance. Australia was bowled out for 216 and India cruised home in 38.5 overs with eight wickets to spare, and enjoyed the added lustre of opener Manjot Kalra’s unbeaten 101. Through the tournament India found diverse heroes. Fittingly, its batting troika of Shaw, Kalra and Shubman Gill, along with seamer Kamlesh Nagarkoti and spinner Anukul Roy, found a berth in the International Cricket Council’s Under-19 World Cup team, essentially a tribute to the best players on view in the championship. Cricketing excellence allied with the resultant celebrity status, especially during the teenage years, can be a double-edged sword and it helped that in the dressing room there was the calming presence of Dravid. As the ecstatic players leapt and photo-bombed after clinching the trophy, Dravid cut through the hype and said that this win should not be the team’s defining memory as each individual cricketer has much more to achieve in his career.

Dravid has a point. India has won the Under-19 World Cup on four occasions, including the previous golden runs in 2000, 2008 and 2012. From among these champion sides, only a few graduated to the big stage. Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli came through the under-19 ranks and managed to carve a niche for themselves, but Unmukt Chand, who led the team to the Cup in 2012, and then featured in a soft drink advertisement besides writing a book, has been unable to make it to the Indian senior team. He is still finding his feet with the Delhi squad in domestic cricket. Shaw and his mates will be aware that after the spectacular rise under the New Zealand skies, they still have to earn and preserve their respective spots in the State outfits before earning the right to rub shoulders with Kohli and his men. The road towards the high-stakes game of international cricket is long and arduous and history has taught us that not all teenage prodigies can be a Sachin Tendulkar or a Kohli. For Shaw and company, the journey has only begun but their moment in the sun does suggest that Indian cricket’s conveyor belt is moving smoothly along.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 6:49:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/youth-power/article22661657.ece

Next Story