NEW DELHI: Hopes will be high from the Indian squad led by Prithvi Shaw at the 2018 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup, largely because of the likes of the skipper and players with a good blend of Youth ODI and first-class experience, such as Himanshu Rana, Shubhman Gill, Abhishek Sharma and Ishan Porel, and the fact that their coach is none other than Rahul Dravid.
India U-19 team guide
At the previous edition of the junior World Cup, held in Bangladesh two years ago, the Indian team reached the final. While this current squad is entirely different, the fact that its captain Shaw has set domestic cricket abuzz with his batting for Mumbai, and how he and Gill contributed to a 5-0 youth ODI whitewash of England last year.
That said, the team will look to put behind it a disappointing performance at last year’s Asian Cricket Council U-19 Asia Cup, where it won just one of three matches, losing to Nepal and Bangladesh.
Like with the senior Indian limited-overs sides, India’s batting remains its strongest aspect. Two very fine openers, consistency in the middle order and a couple big hitters to follow. Skipper Shaw, with 361 runs in ten Youth ODIs, and Himanshu Rana, with 452 from 14, are capable of laying solid platforms up front. Punjab’s Shubhman Gill at No 3 is one of the most exciting young batsmen going around, and with a few solid first-class games this Ranji Trophy season, he will have gained in confidence. With Anukul Roy and Abhishek Sharma to follow, the middle order is capable.
There are no glaring minus points to this India squad, but the team’s jittery performances in the U-19 Asia Cup in November indicate a dependency on the top order and confusion in the face of an attacking start from opponents. As can be expected with such a young team, with only a few having played first-class cricket, how a coach of Dravid’s expertise guides the team through this massive tournament will be critical.
Yet to play first-class cricket, allrounder Shivam Mavi has in the past year impressed for India U-19s in 50-over and unofficial Test matches. His right-arm fast-medium helped India whitewash England in England last year, and in the preceding two four-day games he took 10 wickets. As one of India’s new-ball operators in New Zealand, where the conditions can be expected to aid seam and swing, Mavi may be handful for opposing teams.
What they did at the last U-19 World Cup
The Indian team, captained by Jharkhand batsman Ishan Kishan, stormed into the final of the 2016 edition held in Bangladesh, where they were stunned by West Indies U-19s who won by five wickets and with three deliveries remaining. Sarfaraz Khan scored 355 runs at 71, with five fifties in six innings, and the explosive wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant 267 runs at 44.50, with five catches and two stumpings. Pant led India U-19s into the semi-finals of the junior World Cup with 111 off 96 balls against Namibia, having earlier smashed the quickest fifty in the tournament’s history during the league stage. With the ball, seam bowler Avesh Khan and left-arm spinner Mayank Dagar starred 13 and 11 wickets respectively.
Prithvi Shaw (capt), Shubman Gill (v/c), Aryan Juyal (wk), Abhishek Sharma, Arshdeep Singh, Harvik Desai (wk), Manjot Kalra, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Pankaj Yadav, Riyan Parag, Ishan Porel, Himanshu Rana, Anukul Roy, Shivam Mavi, Shiva Singh
Sunday January 14 v Australia, Mount Maunganui (D/N)
Tuesday January 16 v Papua New Guinea, Mount Maunganui (D/N)
Friday January 19 v Zimbabwe, Mount Maunganui (D/N)
Youth ODI form guide (last six months)
v England U-19s: Won 5-0 (away)
ACC U-19 Asia Cup: P 3 W 1 L 2