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ICC U-19 cricket World Cup 2018: Top five Indian players to watch out for

The Indian cricket team, which will be coached by Rahul Dravid for the upcoming ICC U-19 World Cup in New Zealand, has some names who have done well in the Indian domestic circuit.

cricket Updated: Jan 12, 2018 17:53 IST
Bihan Sengupta
Bihan Sengupta
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
‪Under-19 Cricket World Cup‬,‪International Cricket Council‬,‪India national under-19 cricket team‬
India last won the U-19 cricket World Cup in 2012 when they defeated Australia in the final under the captaincy of Unmukt Chand.(AP)

The India under-19 side start their World Cup campaign on Sunday when they take on a strong Australian side, who skipped the previous edition owing to security concerns. Runners-up last time around in Bangladesh, the under-19 side, spearheaded by the sensational Prithvi Shaw will aim to clinch the title for the fourth time, having lifted the silverware back in 2000, 2008 and 2012. HT looks at a few promising players who would play a vital role in India’s progress to the latter stages of the tournament:

Prithvi Shaw scored four centuries in his first five first-class innings. (PTI)

Prithvi Shaw

Born: November 9, 1999

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm off-break

The Indian under-19 captain shot to fame back in 2013 when he smashed 546 runs off just 330 deliveries during a Harris Shield game against St Francis D’ Assidi. But the transformation from a school kid smashing balls in the park to a youth cricketer taking on the opposition at will has been a splendid curve.

His hunger for runs forced the selectors to take a gamble and play him in Mumbai’s Ranji squad last season. Shaw responded by not only slamming a century on debut against a strong Tamil Nadu side in the semifinal, but went on to score four centuries in his first five first-class matches. In the process, he also emulated Sachin Tendulkar’s feat of scoring a century in one’s Duleep Trophy debut and is now a vital cog in the Mumbai batting line-up.

When New Zealand toured India late last year, Shaw was part of the Board President’s XI and opened the innings against the likes of Trent Boult and Tim Southee. Although he wasn’t part of the under-19 Asia Cup, his excellent start in the domestic circuit has earned him plaudits from all sections of the cricketing fraternity.

Kamlesh Nagarkoti

Born: December 28, 1999

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm medium fast

Being a fast bowler in India is not an easy task. However, Nagarkoti has defied that trend and has emerged as one of the brightest prospects for the tournament in New Zealand.

One of the most important aspects of his bowling is that at 18, he has already learnt the nuances of how to reverse swing deliveries besides swinging it both ways. While he made headlines with 10-wicket haul in an under-19 Test against England in Chesterfield, he perhaps caught the selectors’ eye when he debuted for Rajasthan in the Vijay Hazare Trophy last year.

Sharing the dressing room with the likes of Pankaj Singh who has represented India twice, Nathu Singh and Aniket Choudhary, it was the 17-year-old Nagarkoti who finished the tournament’s highest wicket-taker for his side. His tally included a hat-trick against Gujarat.

In New Zealand, he’s expected to open the bowling with the new ball and a lot will depend on him if India is to make early inroads in the opposition top-order.

Shubman Gill rose to prominence with a brilliant 351 in a Punjab inter-district tournament. (HT Photo)

Shubman Gill

Born: September 8, 1999

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm off-break

Fazilka, the district where Gill was born, is less than 10km away from the border of Pakistan. His parents decided to move nearly 315km east to Mohali to provide their son a better opportunity in cricket. This is probably another tale in the making where a nation can feel itself lucky about in years to come.

Gill is one of the promising young talents in the country for his ability to enjoy batting as long as possible. At the age of 14, he had struck 351 in a Punjab inter-district tournament and recently ended as the leading run-scorer of the U-19 side that thrashed England under-19 5-0 in the recently concluded One Dayers between the two sides.

The superb run of form also earned him a spot in the Punjab Ranji side and after scoring a half century on debut against Bengal, the 18-year-old went on to score 129 in the next game against Services.

Ishan Porel

Born: September 5, 1998

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm medium

Porel is an excellent prospect given that his raw pace often touches the higher end of the 130kmph-mark. He has already made his first-class debut for Bengal and picked up 13 wickets in three matches so far, including a five-for in his very second game.

In New Zealand, Porel picked up four wickets in their tie against South Africa on January 9 while giving away just 23 runs. If his first match in the Kiwi Island is anything to go by, the tall lanky pacer should cause the opposition consistent problem with the new ball.

Porel was highly successful in the under-19 Challenger Trophy and finished with eight wickets for India Green, just one behind the leading trio of Pankaj Yadav, Shivam Mavi and Ayan Siriwardena. He bowled a staggering 163 dot balls (27.1 overs) — in his 38.1 overs during the entire series.

According to several reports, India under-19 coach and former batsman Rahul Dravid had hand-picked Porel.

Himanshu Rana has been one of the finds for the India U-19 squad. (Getty Images)

Himanshu Rana

Born: October 1, 1998

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm medium

The 19-year-old is yet another batsman that forms the backbone of the India under-19 batting line-up. Hailing from Sonipat in Haryana, Rana already has the experience of 15 first-class matches in which he has scored two centuries and four half-centuries.

Rana debuted for Haryana back in 2015 in the Ranji Trophy against a strong Delhi line-up and struck 80 while the rest of the batsmen put up a combined total of 94 runs. Rana’s knock proved vital as it forced Delhi to come out to bat for the second time and no play on Day 4 helped Haryana escape with a draw.

He was also part of side that played the under-19 Asia Cup in Kuala Lumpur and emerged as the side’s highest run-getter with 168 runs in three matches. He struck 107 in the first game against Malaysia U-19, besides scoring 46 and 15 against the U-19 sides of Nepal and Bangladesh in the other two matches.

Rana also bowls a fair bit of medium pace but his strength lies with the bat and he seems to be in a good touch given he struck 68 against the under-19 South Africa side in their first warm-up game in New Zealand on Tuesday.

First Published: Jan 12, 2018 17:52 IST