HT Image
HT Image

Lost in transition

India last won the U-19 World Cup in 2000. But where are the heroes of Colombo 2000 today? Hindustan Times takes a closer look at those stars.
Hindustan Times | By Anand Vasu
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2008 06:58 PM IST

Yuvraj Singh

Of the class of 2000, he is the only player has escaped the ravages of time and grown in stature enough to be called a permanent fixture in the Indian team. Even he, recently appointed vice-captain to Mahendra Singh Dhoni for ODIs is not entirely sure of a place in the Test team. It's been a career of ups and down for Yuvraj, but his audacious talent has shone through often enough to always keep him in the reckoning. It still bothers him, though, that in eight years of international cricket he has played just 22 Tests in comparison to 203 ODIs.

Mohammad Kaif

Although he was captain of the winning team in 2000 and had plenty of input in lading the side, Kaif was not one of the leading lights with the bat. Still, his was a solid graft and an India place soon came his way. Ironically Kaif first got a go in Tests, but barely got a run. In ODIs John Wright reposed much faith in the Yuvraj-Kaif combination and it culminated in that heroic win over England in the NatWest Challenge. But Kaif's star has faded and he hasn't played for India in two years. He's still toiling away with Uttar Pradesh, and has a chance to make a comeback to the highest level.

Reetender Singh Sodhi

Probably the biggest let down of the 2000 win, the Man of the Match in the final (and he'd also been player of the final in the under-15 World Cup played earlier) Sodhi was to be the allrounder India did not have and badly needed. But as he climbed up the ranks his mediumpace was found to be a yard or two too slow to be penetrative. Although capable of big hitting, Sodhi's batting alone was never going to be consistent enough to find him a place in the team. Today he 's completely out of the loop, signed with the Indian Cricket League and largely forgotten.

Venugopala Rao

In a generation of cricketers who caught the advertisers' eye almost before the selectors were convinced about them, Venugopala Rao was constantly performing in domestic cricket for Andhra.

Consistent scoring with the bat — his offbreaks were always delivered with a slightly suspect action — he became of the young stars that Greg Chappell's India hoped to make full use of in 2006-2006, with an eye on the forthcoming World Cup. But Rao was found out against genuine pace or swing bowling and averaged less than 25 from his 16 ODIs. He's resisted the ICL temptation and is now sweating it our in domestic cricket.

Niraj Patel

A canny batsman with a knack for rotating the strike and finishing matches, Niraj Patel has been the backbone of Gujarat's team since the time he made his debut for them in 1997-98. Since then he has ground out close to 4000 runs at an average of more than 40 in first-class cricket, and scored at an even better average in domestic one-dayers. Even strong performances in the Challenger Series, against the best ODI players in India, wasn't enough to propel him to the highest level. For some reason he remained one of those unfashionable players, a domestic work horse who was never given a chance at the highest level.

Ajay Ratra

A rare natural glovesman in a time when India struggled to find a permanent replacement for Nayan Mongia, who was left out in the cold after the matchfixing saga, Ratra was a solid candidate for the job. He was not considered quite the right deal for the limited-overs game, with batsmen who could keep a bit being pressed into service. But in Test cricket Ratra was competent and was even good enough to become the youngest wicketkeeper to score a Test century, making 115 against West Indies at Antigua. But oddly, his career at the highest level would span only six Tests, after which more glamourous contenders edged him out.

Arjun Yadav

Another one who barely had a role to play in the 2000 win, Arjun Yadav has nevertheless gone on to live a charmed life. His top-order batting and occasional flat offbreaks have completely failed to make a mark. His numbers should make the selectors who continue to pick him for India A and such representative teams blanch.

In 59 first-class matches he averages less than 29, but continues to lead Hyderabad when VVS Laxman is away on national duty. In 55 domestic one-dayers his average dips to 20 and he has not reached triple figures even once.

Combined, he has 20 wickets from 112 matches. Perhaps it helps to be the son of Shivlal Yadav, the former Test cricketer and currently secretary of the Hyderabad Cricket Association.

Shalabh Sriwastava

Tall, left-arm reasonably quick and capable of swinging the ball, Shalabh Sriwastava was a rare specimen in 2000,unlike now where India seem to unearth left-arm quick bowlers in every state. Sriwastava followed up a good World Cup in 2000 with consistent performances for Uttar Pradesh.

He did a lot of work on strengthening his shoulder muscles and bulking up overall, but a series of injuries made his a stop-start career. A knee injury in 2003 required expensive surgery in South Africa and, amid whispers that neither the UPCA nor the Indian Board was willing to help him, he eventually signed with the Indian Cricket League.

The also rans

Anup Dave, Mrityunjay Tripathi and Ravneet Ricky performed well for their respective states for a time, but of the three only Ricky is still doggedly at it. Even he, though, is not even spoken of potential India material.

S Vidyuth and Mihir Diwakar were part of the squad that won in 2000, but did not play in a single match as India went undefeated and did not change a winning combination.

Story Saved