Five Young Indian Stars at the ICC U-19 World Cup 2020


Five Young Indian Stars at the ICC U-19 World Cup 2020

Illustration: Hitesh Sonar

The glut of edge-of-the-seat super overs we’ve been treated to this past week might have made you forget, but there is currently an ICC World Cup underway: The U-19 Cricket World Cup. And India’s young prospects have had a fine showing in the ongoing tournament in South Africa, defeating Australia to become the first team to punch their ticket to the semi-final stage. At this hurdle, the team will take on old foes Pakistan in a must-win match that takes place on February 4. Needless to say, any clash with the neighbours will have the whole nation on its toes. Before you put on your jersey and cheer for the Boys in Blue though, here’s a primer on whom to look out for:

Yashasvi Jaiswal

Even before the World Cup began, there was a lot riding on the shoulders of the young Yashasvi Jaiswal. You don’t get sold for ₹ 2.40 crore at the IPL auction and then fade from everyone’s memory. So 17-year-old Jaiswal not only had to do well for the team, but also live up to the expectations that were fostered when four IPL teams engaged in a bidding war over him. And as luck would have it, Jaiswal has delivered the goods in this tournament. He’s struck four half-centuries already, against quality opposition such as Australia, and all eyes are on him as India takes on arch-rivals Pakistan on Tuesday.

The sky seems to be the limit for this youngster who grew up on a dairy farm in Uttar Pradesh and moved to Mumbai at the age of 11 to pursue his cricketing dreams.

Dhruv Jurel

The autumn years of MS Dhoni’s career have left a huge void in the Indian team. Not too many wicketkeeper-batsmen turn out to be match winners, do they? While Rishab Pant and KL Rahul may be able to fill in for now, Dhoni’s strategising and game sense is what elevated him to the  position of an irreplaceable player. Dhruv Jurel is no different. He is not just a wicketkeeper-batsman, but a wicketkeeper-batsman-captain in the mould of Dhoni, who not only performs on the pitch but also reads the game. While Jurel is currently vice-captain of the squad at the U-19 World Cup, he has led the team to an Asia Cup trophy in the past.

Will Dhruv be the future Dhoni? The upcoming games might give us some answers.

Priyam Garg

From the vice-captain to the skipper, Team India U-19 owes a lot to the able stewardship of Priyam Garg. Garg is another player who was the subject of heavy bidding at the IPL auction, but hasn’t let the extra attention get to his head. As captain, he hasn’t had to exert himself too far in an innings, but when he gives himself the opportunity, like he did against Sri Lanka, he’s able to convert starts into half-centuries.

Garg isn’t just an effective leader, he’s also a genial one. The U-19 captain received lots of praise for inviting Japan into the Team India photo after an easy victory over the minnows in the tournament.

India’s U-19 Cricket World Cup team defeated Australia to become the first team to punch their ticket to the semi-final stage.

Kartik Tyagi

Until the quarter-final against Australia, Kartik Tyagi would not have made this list. But the right-arm fast bowler went from unremarkable to undeniable in a star-making turn against the Aussies, where he picked up four wickets for just 24 runs. Not only was that a blindingly brilliant display of bowling – and against a team very comfortable with pace – but it was also the performance that punched India’s ticket to the semi-final.

After all, despite its heroics with the bat, the team had posted an achievable target of 233 for the rampant Australian line-up. But Tyagi was the X-factor that turned the tide in India’s favour.

Ravi Bishnoi

No Indian cricket squad feels complete without a star spinner, and Ravi Bishnoi is the man for India U-19. The leg-spinner has played four matches and picked up an impressive 11 wickets. He has been the team’s most consistent bowler throughout the tournament by some distance. Bishnoi has an economy of 3.28 and average of 9.55, which is just mind-blowing when you consider how heavily the T20 format favours batsmen. And, in the aforementioned game against Japan, he was both parsimonious and deadly, picking four wickets while conceding only five runs. Truly, a batsman’s nightmare.

Will these Fabulous Five ensure that we lift the coveted Cup for the fifth time?