The Prithvi Shaw-led India Under-19 team emerged as champions of the 2018 World Cup in New Zealand, the fourth world title for India’s young guns.
The Ishan Kishan-led outfit had fallen at the final hurdle to West Indies in 2016, but two years later, the next U19 batch, with Rahul Dravid still at the helm of the team, were absolutely ruthless.
The World Cup: Australia, Papua New Guinea and Zimbabwe were dispatched with disdain in the group stage matches, with Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill piling on runs for fun and all-rounder Anukul Roy accounting for the lion’s share of wickets. Fast bowlers Ishan Porel, Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi impressed with their express pace.
Bangladesh were beaten by 131 runs in the quarter-final, Pakistan were defeated by 203 runs in the semifinal, with Gill scoring big again. The final against Australia was the closest India got to receiving a fight, but this match also was won by 8 wickets.
India’s winning U19 squad: Prithvi Shaw (c), Shubman Gill (vc), Harvik Desai (wk), Aryan Juyal (wk), Manjot Kalra, Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Riyan Parag, Ishan Porel, Himanshu Rana, Anukul Roy, Abhishek Sharma, Arshdeep Singh, Shiva Singh
Prithvi Shaw’s promise had been known of long before the 2018 World Cup. His records in school cricket and the way he burst onto the scene for Mumbai in domestic cricket in the 2016/17 season had been proof enough that the opening batsman belonged to the big stage.
Shaw scored 261 runs in 6 matches at an average of 65 and a strike rate of 95. His score of 94 vs Australia in India’s first match was his highest score of the tournament.
Shaw made his IPL debut for Delhi Daredevils just a month after the U19 World Cup. He was been retained by the Delhi franchise for subsequent IPL seasons. He has also cemented his place in the Mumbai side in domestic cricket. He was handed his Test debut in a home series vs West Indies, and he lived up to promise by scoring a century.
His career had a blip when he was given a short doping ban but he has since then returned to the pitch and the runs have started flowing as well.
Given that Shaw went into the U19 World Cup with massive expectations on him, Shubman Gill can be said to have been the find of the tournament for India.
He scored 372 runs in 6 matches, the highest individual tally from Team India and the second highest run tally across all teams. His runs came at a staggering average of 124 and a strike rate of 112.
Gill was also fast-tracked into the IPL a month after the U19 World Cup, with the steady runs coming from his bat making him a crucial cog in the Kolkata Knight Riders batting order. Gill has also cemented his place in the KKR side in the IPL and for Punjab in domestic cricket.
Gill was handed his India debut in the ODI format on a tour of New Zealand and has been on the fringes of the senior team in recent times.
Harvik Desai and Aryan Juyal – Wicketkeepers
A wicketkeeper from Saurashtra, Harvik Desai was one of two wicketkeeping options in India’s squad. He played 4 matches in the World Cup, while Aryan Juyal of Uttar Pradesh played 2 matches.
Desai emerged as the first choice keeper through the tournament, and was even played as an opener in a few matches. His defensive batting provided the foil to the attacking batsmen like Shaw and Gill to prosper at the other end.
Desai made his Ranji debut for Saurashtra in the 2018/19 season. With the likes of Snell Patel and Sheldon Jackson being in Saurashtra’s team as keeping options, Desai often plays the role of a specialist opener in red-ball cricket.
Juyal has also found it hard to break into the UP side as a specialist wicketkeeper, with the likes of Upendra Yadav and Akshdeep Nath being present. He has also been tried as a specialist opening batsman in domestic cricket in recent seasons.
The tale of Manjot Kalra – Prithvi Shaw’s opening partner – whose playing style invited comparisons with Shikhar Dhawan and who was the one who raised his had and emerged as the hero in the U19 World Cup final vs Australia with his 101*, has turned sour in recent times.
Kalra was just the fifth batsman to score a hundred in a U19 World Cup final. His tally of 252 runs in 6 matches made him the third highest scoring India batsman in the tournament – after Shaw and Gill. His runs came at an average of 84 and a atrike rate of 89.
However, it later emerged through a police investigation – after disgruntled parents of Delhi’s junior cricketers complained about him – that he was at least a year older than what he had registered as. Thus, he played in the World Cup illegally. He had been born after the cut-off date deemed as eligible for the tournament. In 2019, he was served a two-year ban from all forms of cricket.
Himanshu Rana, an astute top order batsman with the proficiency of finding gaps with technique rather than strength, got only two matches at the U19 World Cup, but he had been one of the few in the team to already have broken into domestic cricket by then.
The Haryana top order batsman continues to be a vital part of his state team in domestic cricket.
Riyan Parag, Anukul Roy, Abhishek Sharma
Spin bowling all-rounders were a crucial part of the India U19 team. Riyan Parag took 3 wickets, Abhishek Sharma took 6 wickets. The leader of the pack, however, was Jharkhand’s Anukul Roy, whose 14 wickets made him the most prolific bowler of the tournament.
Anukul was the only one among the three to not have played domestic cricket before the World Cup. Jharkhand drafted him immediately into the side. Dubbed ‘Samastipur’s Ravindra Jadeja’, Anukul Roy is now a constant fixture in the Jharkhand side. He has also made a foray into the IPL, playing one match for Mumbai Indians last season.
Riyan Parag, Assam’s blue-eyed boy, can probably be said to have had the most impact since the World Cup, however. Not only has he become a regular presence in the Assam middle order, he also made a splash in the IPL for Rajasthan Royals last season in the IPL. He was considered to be one of the best buys of the IPL last season, and he has fittingly been retained.
For all the success Anukul Roy and Riyan Parag have enjoyed in the last few years, the spin bowling all-rounder who came into the U19 World Cup in 2018 was probably Abhishek Sharma. He had been the captain of the side before Prithvi Shaw took over. He played for Delhi Capitals in the 2018 IPL – for whom he smashed an unbeaten 46 off 19 balls on debut – and for SunRisers Hyderabad in the 2019 IPL. He has also made himself a constant fixture in the Punjab side.
Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi
Seam bowling all rounders Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti burst onto the scene with their searing pace in the Under 19 World Cup – both bowlers taking 9 wickets in 6 matches – but both have seen their careers frustratingly caught in the rut.
Both bowlers were signed by KKR in the IPL following their World Cup heroics. However, Nagarkoti was ruled out of the IPL 2018 season with a fractured foot and later a recurring back injury paused his career for 19 months. We are still waiting on Nagarkoti to return to cricket and serve up on the promise he showed two years ago.
Shivam Mavi, on the other hand, has played more cricket since then, but has seen his career being entangled in investigations over age fudging as well. The Uttar Pradesh quick, like Manjot Kalra, is suspected of having decreased his age in official registers and he could face a ban as well in coming days.
Ishan Porel, Arshdeep Singh
The specialist pace bowlers in the winning India U19 squad – Ishan Porel and Arshdeep Singh – have had varying degrees of success since the World Cup.
Ishan Porel was sidelined from the playing XI with injury for some matches in the World Cup, but he came up with two superlative performances in the tournament. His 4/17 vs Pakistan demolished them in the semifinal and his 2/30 in the final vs Australia were the best Indian bowling figures on the day. Considered one of the most exciting fast bowling talents in domestic cricket, Ishan Porel was picked up by Kings XI Punjab for IPL 2020.
Arshdeep Singh, on the other hand, has found it hard to break into domestic cricket, having played just one Ranji Trophy match for Punjab. He got his IPL opportunity in 2019, but failed to impress much in limited chances for KXIP.
Shiva Singh, the specialist spin bowler in the victorious U19 India side, played all six matches in the 2018 tournament, taking 4 wickets at an economy rate of 3.23. He has not found it easy to break into domestic cricket since then for Uttar Pradesh. He is yet to make his Ranji Trophy debut, but has been seen played as an economical bowling option in the shorter formats.
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