ICC U19 World Cup: Holders India favourites as U 19 World Cup begins
The defending champions go into the contest as one of the favourites, riding on a talented group that has largely tasted the rigours of senior level cricket (almost half of the squad has played for their state teams).Updated: Jan 17, 2020 08:47 IST
When Makhaya Ntini relates the Indian U-19 team to almost ‘watching the Indian senior team as they looked very slick’, it conveys a thing or two about the Priyam Garg-led side, which starts its U-19 World Cup campaign against Sri Lanka on Sunday. The defending champions go into the contest as one of the favourites, riding on a talented group that has largely tasted the rigours of senior level cricket (almost half of the squad has played for their state teams). Four of them Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ravi Bishnoi, Kartik Tyagi and Akash Singh will turn up for franchises at the 2020 IPL.
With such wealth of experience, India will be expected to carry forward their dominance at the U-19 level. Already they are the most successful team with four titles (2000, 2008, 2012 and 2018) and a fifth title will only add to the glory. The Indian U-19 team has not lost a bilateral series since the 2017 U19 World Cup, defeating South Africa, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan away from home. The current side, coached by Paras Mhambrey, has been on a winning streak since 2019, clinching the U-19 Asia Cup in September and a Tri-Nations meet with England and Bangladesh in England. They also won a quadrangular in South Africa ahead of the World Cup, which also had the hosts, New Zealand and Zimbabwe.
Among the Indian batsmen, Jaiswal will be in focus after having become the youngest cricketer in the world to score a List A double century in October at the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Captain Garg, who has represented Uttar Pradesh at the Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, will have two talented spin options in left-armers Atharva Ankolekar and Shubhang Hegde and pacer Sushant Mishra.
Along with India, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and surprise entrants Japan complete Group A. In total there are four groups, with two teams from each group advancing to the quarter-final stage. The final will be played in Potchefstroom on February 9.
After recent series of defeats to Bangladesh (4-1) and Australia (3-0), New Zealand will be aiming to bounce back. The 2016 semi-finalists Sri Lanka and Japan would be hoping to punch above their weight in the group stage.
Among other teams Bangladesh had the highest win-percentage last year among all the competing sides
Also, Australia like India have a number of players, who have already played the senior level with one prominent name being Ian Harvey’s nephew McKenzhie Harvey, who has played two List A and 13 T20 games. Similarly England have Ben Charlesworth with an experience of 11 first-class games while a few of his teammates have also played for their respective counties.
The opening game will see hosts South Africa face Afghanistan at Kimberley on Friday.
India Group A fixtures: January 19: India vs Sri Lanka; January 21: India vs Japan; January 24: India vs New Zealand. All matches in Bloemfontein