The India U-19 squad started their World Cup on a winning note against the Proteas. In contrast to previous editions of the tournament, this time the U-19 squad did not get much preparation prior to the mega championship. The Pandemic forced to postpone most of the domestic championships.
India have been a powerhouse in the U-19 circuit. The 4 times World champions once again have entered the tournament as formidable contenders. The players will also eye a golden opportunity to be the next bright prospect for the senior team and IPL franchises. With such a load of pressure on the young cricketers, it will be a test of their composure and maturity on the field.
As a unit, the squad has not played a lot of series together. The players were in action in two domestic tournaments Vinoo Mankad Trophy and the Challenger Trophy, a triangular series and the Asia Cup ahead of the World Cup. The Asia Cup win in UAE last year definitely has boosted their confidence as a side.
Will the youngsters repeat history?
The U-19 team won both the warm-up ties comfortably after landing in West Indies. The victory over South Africa witnessed an outstanding performance from the bowlers. Despite suffering a batting collapse, the Young Men In Blue defeated the Proteas by a comprehensive margin of 45 runs.
“They are still a work in progress. But this side knows how to fight.We had very little time before the World Cup and in that context, the boys have been responding well to our preparations. We always knew it will be challenging, but at the same time, all of us including (Rahul) Dravid, (VVS) Laxman put a plan in place. And credit to the BCCI, especially secretary Jay Shah and president Sourav Ganguly for catering to our need,” S Sharath, the chairman of the junior selection committee stated.
The U-19 World Cup is conducted in a relaxed bio-bubble. However, the Indian players were kept in a bio-bubble with a lot more restrictions back in India during their preparation camp at NCA, Bengaluru.
Asia Cup victory , a fillip to the squad
“We didn’t want to take any chances and in the current circumstances you have to see if a player can manage the bubble life and even Dravid and Laxman wanted to choose the players with the right attitude. And we had to give as many opportunities to everyone before naming the squad. So in that sense, the Challenger Trophy with six teams allowed us to widen the pool,” Sharath added.
The U-19 cricketers prior to the Asia Cup played a triangular series for India A. The series ended on a disappointing note after the side lost to Bangladesh A in the finals. Since that defeat, there has been no looking back for the young guns. The cricketers came back strong in the Asia Cup after their defeat against arch-rivals Pakistan.
“We told them to be guarded and take it one step at a time. You have to gradually pick up the pace. They know there is still a lot to do and we are really impressed by their awareness. Even when they won the Asia Cup, there were no over-the-top celebrations. They are on the right track because winning Asia Cup isn’t easy because Pakistan, Bangladesh have a good team and it was a good confidence booster,” Sharath said.
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